Thursday, December 30, 2004


Weekend Reading

Disasters: Natural and Man Made Edition

A three day holiday weekend awaits, so Elephant bids you adeau for 2004. The focus of the last weekend reading segment for 2004 is on disasters. Hopefully this will exorcize any linger chances of events like we've seen this past week and set us all up for a prosporus and peaceful new year. (Hey, I can hope can't I?)

(Note, my selection of articles should not be seens as assigning moral equivalency between events, just trying to assemble a common theme.)

Asia's devastation

THE clue lies in the Japanese name that has been adopted for them around the world: tsunami. Formed from the characters for harbour and wave, and commemorated in the 19th-century woodblock print by Hokusai that decorates so many books and articles about the subject (see article), the word shows that these sudden, devastating waves have mainly in the past occurred in the Pacific Ocean, ringed as it is by volcanoes and earthquake zones.

Tsunamis: Facts About Killer Waves

The Indian Ocean tsunami generated by the most powerful earthquake in decades this weekend is believed to have killed as many as 70,000 people and made millions homeless, making it perhaps the most destructive tsunami in history.

Dollar Falls to Record $1.36 per Euro as U.S, ECB Allow Decline

The dollar declined past $1.36 per euro for the first time, reaching a record low for the seventh time this month, on speculation the U.S. and Europe will allow the currency to drop

Meritocracy in America: Ever higher society, ever harder to ascend
THE United States likes to think of itself as the very embodiment of meritocracy: a country where people are judged on their individual abilities rather than their family connections. The original colonies were settled by refugees from a Europe in which the restrictions on social mobility were woven into the fabric of the state, and the American revolution was partly a revolt against feudalism. From the outset, Americans believed that equality of opportunity gave them an edge over the Old World, freeing them from debilitating snobberies and at the same time enabling everyone to benefit from the abilities of the entire population. They still do.

Jersey Girl Out On DVD


Weekend Reading

Disasters: Natural and Man Made Edition

A three day holiday weekend awaits, so Elephant bids you adeau for 2004. The focus of the last weekend reading segment for 2004 is on disasters. Hopefully this will exorcize any linger chances of events like we've seen this past week and set us all up for a prosporus and peaceful new year. (Hey, I can hope can't I?)

(Note, my selection of articles should not be seens as assigning moral equivalency between events, just trying to assemble a common theme.)

Asia's devastation

THE clue lies in the Japanese name that has been adopted for them around the world: tsunami. Formed from the characters for harbour and wave, and commemorated in the 19th-century woodblock print by Hokusai that decorates so many books and articles about the subject (see article), the word shows that these sudden, devastating waves have mainly in the past occurred in the Pacific Ocean, ringed as it is by volcanoes and earthquake zones.

Tsunamis: Facts About Killer Waves

The Indian Ocean tsunami generated by the most powerful earthquake in decades this weekend is believed to have killed as many as 70,000 people and made millions homeless, making it perhaps the most destructive tsunami in history.

Dollar Falls to Record $1.36 per Euro as U.S, ECB Allow Decline

The dollar declined past $1.36 per euro for the first time, reaching a record low for the seventh time this month, on speculation the U.S. and Europe will allow the currency to drop

Jersey Girl Out On DVD


TV & stage's Orbach dead

An Actor's Actor

Elephant is a big fan of TV's Law & Order franchise (except for the Criminal Intent version). I became hooked during law school when I realized a lot of the court room banter was, surprisingly accurate. But what keeps me coming back is the shear joy of watching some of the best character acting on television. Each week producers fill the show with gritty, believable characters to play the villains, victims and bystanders. That's why I was sad to hear that L&O star Jerry Orbach passed away yesterday. For over then years he was the heart of the show.
Not to mention his role in "Dirty Dancing" and voicing Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.


My TiVo Hates Me

Tech Troubles

For Christmas this year, I got a TiVO. I was seduced into buying this allegedly dreamy digital video recorder by the rave reviews of my friends and the supposed convenience of having a video recorder that can record entire seasons of a show for you, even if the network changes the broadcast times. I still hold out hope for such convenience, but alas I'm knee deep in a technological morass right now.

First, hooking up the TiVo was rather easy. Once this was done, the on screen guide walks one through the rest of the set up process rather nicely. However, after setting up the system I've run into several issues. First, I cannot change the channel to any station that has a 5 or a 6 in it. More oddly, last night after attempting to tune into the history channel (65 on my cable system) my Tivo went off on a channel flipping jag. Then, my Tivo was supp0sed to tape a show for me while I was act work, but the program schedule had changes and the system didn't pick it up, leaving me with an episode on Melrose Place.

It's been a while since I've bought such a techy gadget and most of my recent tech purchases have been to use with my Apple I-book, which is so easy to use and hook up to other products I think I've been spoiled. Alas, the next few days will be spent ironing out the kinks in the Tivo.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Bush's Chance to Win Over the World

Cancel the Inaugural Balls, Donate Money to Victims of Tsunami

You know what, It'd really win me over-and probably a lot of people in the world who are currently critical of our President, if he were to do something big to show the world his vision of Compassionate Conservatism. Here's what I'd do if I were him.

1) Cancel the elaborate inaugural balls (they're all boring anyway)
2) Take the private money raised to pay for them (somewhere around $80 million) and use it for relief efforts in Asia.

He could have a less showy, humble inauguration, which I think would actually boost his image within and outside the U.S. Yeah, maybe we're rich enough to send a ton of money to help out and have a really fancy inaugural, but think of the symbolism, the marketing potential and the good will this could build. Bush is the only one who could pull it off without look like an opportunist to boot.


Stingy-ness Watch

Effusion Of Prayers, Aid After Tsunami
$10,000 Donations Are Among Area Generosity


On American Generosity

Is $1 trillion a year "Stingy"?

Ok, the UN this week provide a great example of why they have close to zero credibility with the U.S. voting public. U.N.'s Emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said that rich countries are 'stingy' with their foreign aid. In particular he cited that some of the richest countries (i.e. the U.S.A), give less than 0.2% (again the U.S.A) of their gross national product to aid poorer nations. Mr. Egeland's criticism doesn't tell the whole story.

Each year the United States gives direct foreign aid of around $24 billion dollars, which pales in comparison to what we spend on defense, but is more than any other nation.

Second, every year private citizens of the United States give $238 Billion to private charitable organizations to do work in poor areas around the world. That's nothing to sneeze at, but this money is funneled through NGO's and it is hard for governments and the U.N. to get a cut of it. (Maybe that's why it isn't mentioned much).

Finally, every year the people of the United States buy $600 billion more in goods and services from around the world than we sell. This means that every year we transfer $600 billion dollars of our wealth to other countries who produce goods and services we need. Even with lower pay rates such as those in China, our purchases provide a good living for workers in those countries.

So, while I'm all for criticism where criticism is due, the notion that the U.S. is stingy is beyond the pale. It's too bad that the Mr. Egeland and many of the more liberal bloggers can't see beyond their desire to believe the worst about the U.S.


It gets worse

U.N. Official: Indonesia Aceh Deaths May Hit 80,000

The possibility of 80,000 deaths in Indonesia alone is stunning. The videos of the tsunami impact are the stuff of nightmares. I'm still awe struck and saddened.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004



Same-Sex "Married" Penguins Take Family Hostage

The threats of same-sex unions and the destruction on traditional families can no longer be in doubt. Yahoo news has posted a picture of a group of same-sex couples (albeit penguins) clearly taking a traditional family hostage. Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council are dispatching commandos from the army of compassion in an attempt to rescue the hostages.


The Disaster Grows

Tsunami Toll Tops 45,000.

The devastation caused by a slip along a fault line boggles my mind. CNN has a great list of charities to funnel donations to the displaced and injured. Even a small donation will go a long way in this part of the world.


Goodbye Tax Reform


Bush Expected To Delay Major Tax Overhaul
Social Security, Budget Move to Center Stage

The good news is that Bush seems to be getting 'religion' on spending, with a potential spending freeze in the FY06 budget.


Elephant's Best and Worst of 2005

Best Campaign Moments:

Funny, I can't think of anything other than..."It's over, let's move on."

Worst Campaign Moment:

George Bush: Bush camp rolls out the big guns attacking Kerry's War service, it'd be briliant if we hadn't seen them do the same thing to McCain in 2000.

John Kerry: "I voted for the $86 Billion before I voted against it."

Tom Coburn: (Oklahoma's Newest Senator) "Lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. "(Oh, we've thought about it Tom....mmmm tickle fights.....)

Favorite Album: Queen Latifa, The Dana Owens Album, Ok, I'm showing my age here, But the queen of hip-hop showed the scope of her talents by putting out an album of jazzy standards. For me it was as surprising and enjoyable as 2003's Outkast's "Speakerbox" album.

Worst Music Moment: Gee, it's so hard to pick here too. Ashley Simpson on SNL was a good one, but more striking was the total meltdown of Courtney Love whose next album should be titled, "Courtney Love: A Series of Unfortunate Events".

Movies I Liked: Hero, Team America, Big Fish

Movies I need to see: Napolean Dynamite, Sideways, Sponge Bob

Food Favorites in 2004: Rice (14th Street), Le Paradou (Indiana Ave.)

Monday, December 27, 2004


He Who Sings, Prays Twice

He Who Shouts, Pays the Price?

It was St. Augustine who gave me one of my favorite sayings about worship, "He who sings, prays twice." It was a phrase my mother would use to encourage me to sing in church. Of course my response was, "I'll just pray twice". I'm not sure what St. Augustine would have to say about Mr. Briket whose elaborate Christmas decorations and blaring holiday music is upsetting his neighbors.

At 6 o'clock on Friday, as a crystalline blue dusk descended over the desert valley, Chris Birkett began his nightly Christmas extravaganza, turning his modest house and yard into "Winter Wonderland," a blazing filigree of up to 150,000 lights forming Santas, reindeer, "Nutcracker" characters, snowflakes, stars and American flags, under puffs of soap bubbles and sprays of artificial snow.

With it came blaring Disney music and narration that echoed up and down the quiet residential block: "Do you believe in magic? Look to the sky and make a wish. Star light, star bright, I wish I may, I wish I might."

The family next door wishes he would just shut up.

I'm with the neighbors on this one. Elaborate holiday displays are a fun way to celebrate the holidays, but respect for your neighbors is also a good way to act like a Christian. And since when is blaring Disney songs on a loudspeaker in a residential area a demonstration of one's religious faith? A violation of copyright laws maybe (unless Mr. Brikett obtained a license from ASCAP).


The Media

22,000 plus Deaths in Asia or Reggie White?

Decision time, you're the editor of a major twenty four hour news network. A huge natural disaster has just taken place in Asia, tens of thousands of people are dead, millions homeless. The same day a 43 year former NFL star, preacher and accused bigot- Reggie White dies...which is the bigger story?


Praying for Asia


I'm in my office slack jawed and in awe of the horrible events in Asia. Incredible how quickly and with such astonishing force nature can strike. My thoughts are with the victims.


Goodbye USAirways

Baggage Handler's the Last Nail in Airline's Coffin.

Elephant luckily avoided the travel turmoil that engulfed the Midwest over the holiday weekend. My journey was without delay or any problem at all.

Pity the Delta passengers who were stranded due the blizzard in Cincinnati and the crippling computer meltdown. But more shameful seems to be the sick out by the baggage handlers from USAirways. The sick out by baggage handlers and flight attendant's left 1,000s without luggage (and gifts) or just waiting at the airport. In their second bankruptcy, the airline needs all the concessions it can get, which apparently have gone beyond what it's workers are willing to take. Such labor unrest is a bad sign, one that will have me avoiding booking a flight on USAirways in the new year. Others will follow and it's looking like 2005 will be fatal for them.


Succession Plans?

Looking for Bush's Heir.

Well, the President has solidified his power and is looking to lay the foundation for his legacy (Since adding $2 trillion to the debt and the whole Iraq fiasco probably won't get him in the top ten), there remains a huge gaping whole in his plans to remake America and the Republican party...a successor. Vice President Cheney has repeatedly said he's not interested and a host of moderate Republicans (hooray!) have already lined up to run in 2008. But there has yet to emerge a viable successor to carry on Bush's ideology.

Senator Frist is often mentioned as the heir apparent, and rumors in Washington are rampant that Cheney will step down to allow Frist to become the Vice President to better position him for a run at the White House. But as we're seeing with Frist's battle in the Senate, he may be damaged goods as soon as mid-January. To make matters worse, talk in DC is rampant that the whole Bernard Kerik fiasco was in fact engineered by Rove to hobble Guiliani's chances of winning the nomination in 2008 (after all, Rudy supports abortion rights, has gay friends, cheated on his wife...not stuff that would motivate the Jesus crowd.). So while the powers that be are busy with the purges, they're not doing a good job in setting the stage for a Republican successor in 2008.


This Hubris Will Back Fire

GOP sets up Senate collision on judges

In my book, if you score 90% plus on any task or test, your doing quite well. But 90% success rate doesn't seem to be enough for the President or Majority Leader Frist when it comes to judicial appointments. Majority Leader Frist is again threatening to overturn the filibuster rule in the Senate that has been around since the founding of our Republic. Frist's hubris on this issue will be his undoing.

First, the President has announced a worthy and ambitious legislative agenda that includes reforming immigration laws, social security, holding the line on spending and looking at comprehensive (if incremental tax reform). An agenda that even the cynical and skeptical Elephant can get behind. But most of these efforts will require astute legislative skills and support across the party spectrum. Starting off by telling the minority party (and 49% of the voters) that their views don't matter and that the GOP leadership in the Senate doesn't care to find consensus is a sure way to doom any agenda. With Daschle gone and the Dems severely weakened, an accomplishment deficit in the 109th Congress will fall solely on Frist's shoulders. The good doctor should think about what's more important, adding a conservative stamp and reforming some of the largest entitlement programs in government or cramming few a handful of justices. Oh yeah, and some point in the future (possibly sooner than we expect) the GOP will again be in the minority and will have to live by the rules their about to lay down.

But then again, when Pres. Bush was elected with the House in GOP hands, followed shortly after by the Senate, many of us working in the trenches expected nothing short of a revolution. What we got was nothing, just a bunch of power hungry politicians doing anything, spending any amount to cling to power. It reminds me of the Fat Cat democrats back in the early 1990s and yearn for the days when the GOP cared about actual policy issues.

But then, we'll always have the true Republican's like McCain, Hagel, Warner and others who will cringe at the total lack of respect for our democratic traditions and balk at any such measure...or at least I hope so.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Fun with Socialists

Last night, while waiting for a bus home, I was approached by a shabby, yet earnest young man handing out fliers for a counter inaugural protest in January. I'm no fan of Bush and yet, standing in a crowd of patchuli smelling hippy wanabes doesn't exactly thrill me either. (Unless of course the 'puppets for peace' movement is in attendance). Anyway, I politely took his flier and put it in my brief case. Next he asked if I'd like to buy a copy of the "Socialist Worker" newspaper.

"Buy?!" I inquired.

"Yes, it's a great paper." He replied.

"Shouldn't it be free?" I asked.

He looked curious, "What do you mean?"

"Well" I began, "It seems to me that you own the means of production here. And I, a working bloke, should receive the benefit of that shouldn't I? I mean, since you're no doubt exploiting someone's labor to produce this." I smiled.

He left.


I'll be home for HanaChristmaKwanza!

More annoying than Lou Dobbs

Wow, I really thought it'd be hard to be more annoying than the anti-outsourcing/immigration screed that has been CNN's Moneyline for the last year, but this past week has seen the right leaning journo's jump on the Christmas Under Attack Bandwagon. Craziness!

So, to help us all out in the new era of "Bush II" (AKA: The relearning) here's the new, non-pc defenders of Christmas holiday greetings from EIE's Red-State focus groups.

1) For your Jewish Friends: Merry Christmas...Your people killed my savior.
2) For our Muslim Friends: Fasting for a month is not what I'd call a "holiday".
3) For our Hindu Friends: You know, I've always thought the Hindu religion was the one that most resembles the superfriends. I mean what's up with that Elephant God? Deep-a-whaty?
4) For your Buddhist Friends. "This is the sound of one hand clapping...(as you smack them.)

But seriously, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, a belated Semalat Hari Raya, warm(and belated) diwali wishes, and hope you all had fun at the Elephant Festival back in November. The common wish, peace and happiness to you and yours in the coming year.

Friday, December 17, 2004


Say "NO" to Cell Phones on Planes

Let them IM instead

When your sitting in a middle seat in coach, on a full flight, with the seat in front of you reclined to the maximum, it's hard to imagine how air travel could get much worse. Well, here it is...cell phone use on planes during flight. I'm not really into regulation of such personal behavior, but for some reason, even the most polite person looses all concept of others when cell phones are involved. The trend I've seen this year in my office building is cell phone usage on the elevator and in the bathroom. There needs to be some limit, don't you think?

Could the grand bargain be highspeed internet access instead? Passengers could still stay in touch with the office, but in a less intrusive way. Unfortunately, I read a report that the air marshals service are behind this effort so they can get real time intelligence while on a plane. Sounds to me like the feds will push this through and I'll be stuck listening to a salesman talk about the synergies of the database and web integration product (likely followed by a discussion of Star Trek) the next time I fly the red eye back from LA.


Yesterday's Traitor, Today's Patriot

GOP Learning to Loathe Rumsfeld

Hmm, Elephant called for Rummy's head on a platter shortly after the prison abuse scandal broke. Since then there has continued to be a near constant drip of misteps and quasi scandals surrounding the embattled DOD chief. But the funny thing is, that six months ago calling for Rummy's resignation elicited a harsh response from some EIE readers, today it is becoming a consensus position for GOP legislators. Rummy's out after the Iraqi elections. Of course he won't be fired, Bush doesn't do that 'accountability thing' well. Rummy will say "Mission Accomplished" and move on.

GOP lawmaker Collins joins Rumsfeld critics

Thursday, December 16, 2004


I feel safer, don't you?

Airport screeners lose fake bomb during training

Baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport spotted -- and then lost -- a fake bomb planted in luggage by a supervisor during a training exercise.


Gearing up for the 109th

Republican's and Small Government? Forgetaboutit.

November and December are traditionally slow months for us government relations types. Elections are over and Congress usually isn't in session. But this year things are hopping. The agenda announced by the republicans, and pending issues that aren't yet making news have me pinned down making preparations for an onslaught of legislative activity here in DC come February. I'll spare you the issues as a discussion of extending Sarbanes-Oxley overight principles to the nonprofit community would put me into a coma at this point. But needless to say, a lot of business is being done and the host of holiday parties I'm attending around town.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


The Next "Gay" Senator

George Allen? Gay? No, but expect to hear that and much more

Virginia Senator George Allen is an emerging skeptic of the Bush administration and is increasingly looking like he will follow the moderate/maveric model of John McCain. WHy? He has higher ambitions, likely a presidential run. He's no slouch either, he's conservative with just a dash of libertarianism thrown in, no moderate is he. So, when someone who is so firmly in the Republican camp starts to ask questions guess what happens? The oldest trick in the book- attack the messenger. In years past we've seen Bush/Rove go after McCain accusing him of everything from betraying our troops in Vietnam to being a homosexual, and of course we saw what they did to John Kerry too. So look out George, it's going to be a long four years.


Torture: Not an Isolated Incident

Navy documents detail Iraqi abuse claims

The files released Tuesday document a crush of abuse allegations, most from the early months of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, including U.S. Marines forcing Iraqi juveniles to kneel while troops discharge a weapon in a mock execution and the use of an electric shock on a prisoner.


Three Cheers for DC City Council

Council Approves Altered Stadium Deal
Requirement for 50% Private Financing Leaves Team's D.C. Future in Question

Three cheers for Council woman Linda Cropp. She stopped the horrible stadium financing plan cold last night by passing an amendment that requires the team owners to pay 1/2 the stadium costs (currently pegged at $500 million dollars). I'm all for baseball in DC, but the economic benefits to the city as a whole are questionable at best. It's beyond irresponsible to spend that kind of public money on a private venture while some of the public schools in DC don't have window panes or books. If you live in the suburbs, quit your complaining, unless of course you'd agree to a commuter tax to finance this boondogle.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Naughty, Nice list 2004

Know if they've been good or Bad

Focusing on the upcoming holiday, I thought we'd start a 'naughty and nice' list for 2004. Today we feature naughty.


Senator Santorum: Virginia's shadow Senator? Rick makes the naughty list for the discover that (gasp) he doesn't live in Pennsylvania and he is bilking the PA public school system $40,000 a year to send his kids to a 'virtual home school' they attend out of his Virginia residence. Even more ironic is Senator Santorum, in his first Senate run, railed the incumbent for living in the DC are and not Virginia.

Barry Bonds: The Home Run King is all doped up. Natural ability or better living through chemistry? Either way, the overpaid, coddled world of MLB takes another hit.

Bill O'Reilly: Bill O'Rielly has always impressed me as being a fighter. But when charges of sexual harassment, vibrators and 'falafel's' emerged, Bill cried settlement rather than fight. What are you hiding Bill?

Tucker Carlson: For some reason, Tucker Carlson doesn't understand the difference between "Crossfire" and Comedy Central. His hissy fit over John Stewart's humorous critique of his show was not only over the top, but showed that the transition for boarding school to prime time can be a rough one.


Setting Up for 2008

McCain, Hagel Speak

Rummy is making a mess of things. At least that's the word from Sens. McCain and Hagel, two of the few in the GOP who has not yet 'drunk the kool aid' on how all is well with W's alleged republican agenda. McCain thinks we need 100,000 more troops. That'd be a good start if you ask me.


A Jury of His Peers

An Impressive Panel

While I was at the gym last night, I tuned into a press conference with the Scott Peterson Jury, fresh off their death penalty verdict. What an impressive bunch of people. Having been under a gag order for six months, three of the jurors agreed to a press conference to talk about the verdict. As usual the press asked dumb-ish questions like..."Did the Amber tapes change your mind about the guilt?". The jurors, to their credit, talked about the evidence as a whole and their focus on doing right by both families. They repeated said that their decision was not one to be celebrated, but rather just the outcome of what they, as citizens were asked to do.

I could care less about some semi-good looking white guy who kills his semi-good looking wife. It happens all the time. I also haven't been following the trail and really didn't have an opinion one way or the other. What left an impression on me was the earnestness and intelligence of the jurors in discussing how they viewed their jobs. Our system of justice depends on such volunteers, and it works because of them. Thanks.

Monday, December 13, 2004


The Coming War in the Senate

GOP May Target Use of Filibuster
Senate Democrats Want To Retain the Right to Block Judicial Nominees

Okay, never mind that George Bush has gotten all but 10 of his 229 judicial nominations past the Senate. This 96% passage rate exceeds even the record of Ronald Reagan. But of course anything less than 100% ideological harmony won't do. So, Dr. Frist is preparing to kill the democratic tradition of the filabuster. An idea that will come back to haunt the Republican's and will potentially lead to a meltdown of business in the Senate (not that that's a bad thing!).

If course we here at EIE have been talking about this for months now.


Iran, Iraq, and the AARP

AARP is a four letter word

Get ready. The fight shaping up for early next year on Social Security will put Bush & Co. up against one of the largest, well funded interest groups in Washington, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). What to expect? A wholesale trashing of the organization. Old people, in other words, are the new French.

AARP is an association dedicated to the interests of those over 50. It have approximately 35.7 million members. They represent the category of the electorate that are the most likely to vote. They have traditionally been focused on social security and other retiree issues. They will be a formidable opponent on social security reform and have already voiced their skepticism. They should be prepared for the fight of their life.

What can we expect in terms of political counter punches to the AARP?

First, expect the proponents of social security reform to divide the membership. It worked for the election, and it will work here.

Second, question the legitimacy of the organization. "Thirty-five million members? they can't all possibly agree?" or "You know, when the AARP opposed the president's Medicare drug plan they lost 45,000 members, that should tell you their out of touch with their membership. (interestingly that last one is true, but 45,000 represents less than 1/10th of 1% of AARP's members).

Third, remind them they're living off our generosity, they are liberal parasites. "Hey it's my taxes going to pay their social security. They should be happy they get anything."

Don't believe this will happen? It already is. Last week O'Reilly was testing the waters with the anti-AARP message. Get ready.,2933,140986,00.html

Saturday, December 11, 2004


The Resurrection of Irony

Wal-Mart Sued Over Evanescence Lyrics

It's official folks. The great age of "Relearning" and moral values has had the indirect result of ushering in a new age of irony. First we had the minister who stood next to the President and said he shares the President's values in the culture war. The next day he was arrested for sexually assaulting a minor. Now we have this.

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which promotes itself as a seller of clean music, deceived customers by stocking compact discs by the rock group Evanescence that contain the f-word, a lawsuit claims."

Evanescence?! They're a catchy, albeit way-cheesy metal/gothish band. Elephant even considered buying their first album, but it wasn't available on I-tunes, and I came to my senses. But please people. I mean at least when I was a youngin' we did controversy right with NWA and naked Madonna kissing other women in her videos.

I'm no fan of Wal-Mart. Not for any ideological reasons, It's just a little too down market for me. In this Red-State, Blue-State country, I guess I'm more of a target person. But seriously, I don't know what to think of on this. Wal-Mart, for it's clean music policy kind of is getting what it deserves, on the other hand, the music industry is soo trashy that I somewhat feel for the parents. (not a whole lot, but somewhat).

Welcome to the 'new' normal.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Weekend Reading

Saavy Traveler Edition:

It's been a rainy week in Washington. In fact, I'm still dealing with some minor leakage in the basement of my new home. (For the record, home ownership is a pain in the arse). Anyway, the bad weather and the approaching holidays have me dreaming of adventures past and those yet to come. I'm in my 'happy' place, which is my memories of my vacation to Southeast Asia.

Good morning, Vietnam
In a few years they'll be calling it the "Italy" of Southeast Asia. Elephants been lucky enough to visit Vietanam twice in what was the best vacations every (and insanely inexpensive too!). Looks like the cat is out of the bag on the wonderful country that Vietnam is. Visit before it gets over developed.

1st U.S. Jet Since War to Land in Vietnam,0,1821685.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines

Functional Fashion Helps Some Through Airport Checkpoints
Rolf Reifgies always got in trouble at the airport security checkpoint because of his suspenders.

Handiwork a tourist feels in Thailand
The ground felt like a stovetop. Visitors may not wear shoes at Buddhist temples, and we were at the holiest in northern Thailand: Wat Doi Suthep, a glorious, gilded complex at the top of a mountain. After an hour walking on blistering hot tiles, the thrill of lighting incense in front of 14th-century Buddha statues wore off. By the time we walked down the 300 stairs to leave, our feet were raw and our legs were trembling. (Written by my friend Hope Cristol!)

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Holiday Break

Slow Blog Month

Wow, with the election over the Congress adjourning it really leaves a whole in the ability to dredge up information to rant about...err, I mean to discuss. So, starting next week EIE will be scaling back postings to retool and gear up for the 109th Congress. I enjoy this too much to stop now, but I'd definitely like to add links to other blogs, photo capability and other features. Also, the time will allow me to research some 'hot topics' for postings in the new year. So, last posting for the year will be December 17th or so.


Energy and Treasury, Orphans?

Word on the street here is that Snow is staying at Treasury because the President's choice to replace him said "No!". Who'd want the job anyway. Record deficits, a plunging dollar, rising interst rates and the budget busting baby-boomer retirement just years away. Still no word on potential new Energy secretaries either. Perhaps they should call "Temps and Co.".,2933,140916,00.html


Intelligence Reform, Plus

Passage of Bill Marks the End of the 108th Congress

Goodbye 108th Congress! This week the Senate and the House will finish up work on the intelligence reform bill and put the finishing touches on the omnibus spending bill. With that they will conclude their business and adjourn. With the exception of the late manuvering on the intelligence bill, I say good riddence. The good news to come out of the lame duck session however, is that as part of a deal to get the intelligence bill passed, Hasstert and Delay have promised to attach immigration reform to the first 'must' pass bill of the new Congress. Of course they have also been promising the utility industry an energy bill for the last four years.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


A Job No One Wants?

No Energy Secretary Candidates?

Spence Abraham's retirement as Energy Secretary was announced in the first round of the cabinet reshuffle. But have you noticed, that while candidates have emerged to fill other cabinet vacancies, that there has been little said about the short list for DOE? It's a thankless job and apparently, many Bush supports seem to be politely turning it down.


Supporting Illegal Drug Use

A $400 Million Dollar Drug Abuse Subsidy?

The NBA fights, the MLB steriod abuse scandal, the Washington Redskins?! "Professional" sports is really in the toilet these days. So why do my tax dollars have to go to build a $400 million dollar stadium for drug abusers? Doesn't that condone and encourage drug abuse?

Just asking...


I Thought They Said That Irony Was Dead?

Family Values


Rummy Meets the Troops

"Quit Your B*tching!"

Did you hear the clips on the radio this morning? Rummy, fresh out of his Abu Griahb scandal exile was in Kuwait visiting the troops. He even took questions. The clip I heard this morning went like this.

Soldier: "Mr. Rumsfeld, can you tell us why we have to comb through scrap yards to find rusty metal to armor our humvees? Shouldn't we have better?"

Rummy: "You fight with the Army you have."

Nice. Why does this man still have a job? Rummy, the Macnamara of a new generation.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Hey Big Spender

Bush to Add $2 Trillion in Debt for Social Security

Remember when Bush and Co. attacked John Kerry for his proposals that would break the bank? Remember when Elephant complained that Bush's plans actually would cost more? Well here's the kicker, Social Security reform will cost between $1 and $2 trillion dollars to pull off, and Bush plans to borrow it. But it raises the question of who will lend us this money?

Maybe we have to to do this, the alternative would be to start cutting back benefits for seniors approaching retirement. But can we afford $2 trillion in additional debt when we are already running $500 billion dollar deficits a year? With the dollar slipping against other currencies, what foreign governments will be willing to buy our bonds which increasingly are simply a guarantee to loose money for them?

Many tough questions and problems to overcome on this issue. It will be interesting to watch it play out over the next couple of years.


Everything is Fine!

2 C.I.A. Reports Offer Warnings on Iraq's Path

Yes, everything remains fine. We have enough troops, Rumsfeld is a visionary and those aren't car bombs, they're exploding cigars.


Now Maybe They'll Go Home

Vote Is Near on Post-9/11 Reforms

I'm not going to cast any aspersions for the delay in Congress in passing the intelligence reform bill. From what I gather it sounds rather complicated and probably should not have been a rush job. Also, the kinks seem to have been worked out of the omnibus spending bill which means Congress can wrap up and go home.

What's interesting is that traditionally, Congress adjourns in October and things here in DC slow down considerably. But increasingly since the GOP became the majority, Congress doesn't get its main job of passing the 13 or so appropriations bills and things drag on into November and December.

Vote Is Near on Post-9/11 Reforms

Monday, December 06, 2004



Huge Chocolate Creche Sweetens Christmas


Are the Vultures Circling?

AARP Opposed President on Social Security Reform

Uh-Oh! This is a big problem for the President's efforts to reform social security. The AARP is mobilizing to oppose the White House efforts. Meanwhile, the Republican majority in Congress still can't agree among themselves about intelligence reform and both chambers are still in town to try to iron out differences. How will the White House cope with such struggles? Just like they did during the campaign, by shifiting the focus to abortion and gay rights.

Seniors organization digs in for fight over private Social Security accounts


The Media: Part of the Problem

Charicatures are not "Experts"

As most of us know, the presidential primary process favors candidates at the more extreme ends of both parties. That's because the party activists, who put in the time, volunteer and are highly motivated tend to be more dogmatic in their ideology than the average voter. So on the left, you get candidates that are more liberal than the average voter and on the right, you get candidates that are generally more conservative than the average voter. After watching a truly horrible week of talking heads, I've come to the conclusion that the media suffers from a similar problem.

Take that terrible show "Crossfire." Typically hosted by James Carvelle, Paul Begala and Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. Last week we had a guest host of the highest caliber, The Reverend Jerry Farwell. It's typical, whether it is a person representing the evangelical community, the black community or what have you, the media puts forward what basically amounts to a caricature of that group. I doubt Mr. Farwell represents the views of the average evangelical Christian, just as I doubt that the interests of the black community are embodied by Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. Oh all three of these gentlemen are charismatic and occasionally 'outrageous,' but none of them really present the sometimes complicated and nuanced positions of the groups they are supposedly representing. Rather, they can be relied upon to spew stereotypical rhetoric, making a heartfelt and serious discussion of any issue moot. But of course that makes better television doesn't it?

Friday, December 03, 2004


Weekend Reading

Silver and Gold Edition

Trade's bounty

Some of those who are sceptical about globalisation concede that rich countries, at least, gain from it. But many Americans, on recent evidence, seem unconvinced

Rove Unleashed

Expecting a fair shake or move to the middle in Bush II? Think again, Rove plans to tell 48% of America to "Go to Hell."

The Republic Of Turmoil
The 'good old days' never were. The supposedly placid past, a superb new history book reminds us, was just as jarring as the disruptive present.

Defending Repression
Why are conservatives trying to rehabilitate McCarthyism and the Japanese internment?


Rehnquist’s Shadow

Supreme Court Appointment Could Derail Entire Agenda

The talk of the town these days is the pending power grab by Majority Leader Frist to ensure smooth sailing for Bush's Supreme Court and other appointments. Apparently having 195 of 200 or so appointments approved by the Senate (a 97.5% success rate) is not good enough to save the democratic tradition of the filibuster.

But the underlying concern is that Justice Rehnquist will step down in January or February and the fight will be on not only for a new Chief Justice, but also filling a vacancy on the court. Republican oriented trade associations and lobbying shops are worried that if this is the first fight out of the gate, it will be massive and poisonous, resulting in diminished chances that other priorities like tort reform, healthcare and tax reductions will even see the light of day. Bush and Co. may want to reshape the courts, but it could come at a heavy price.


The Great Shuffle

Stacking the Deck

Well, it's holiday time and in DC that means a slew of really great Christmas/Holiday parties around town. At happy hour the other day the big topic of conversation was who got invited to the White House Christmas Party. (Sadly for Laura and George they have something like five parties; White House Staff, Congressional Staff, DC insiders, etc.). Not surprisingly, Elephant wasn't on this year's list. But also, in this post election season, the mass migration of staffers is under way. Friends shifting from Senate or House offices to Committees, people leaving the administration for plum lobbying jobs. If you're looking to send out resumes or land a job with a committee or association, now is a good time to be sending your resume.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


A Letter to the American Family Association

Rudolph the Red Rosed reindeer is a Homosexual

Dear Mr. Vitagliano,

It was with great interest that I read your recent story in Agape Press about how the hit movie "A Shark's Tail" is really about accepting homosexuality and a plot to recruit new young people to this sinful existence.

This past weekend, as I was preparing my home to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I watched a program far more sinister, but equally pro-tolerance and gay as "A Shark's Tale". I certainly hope that your organization takes action to stop such threatening messages of acceptance and tolerance.

As you know, Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer is a program about a "misfit" son of one of Santa's reindeer. He has a red nose and a clear speech impediment, perhaps a lisp. (And we all know what that means!). Anyway, while young Rudolph attempts to hide his 'difference' it's clear to all the other boy reindeer that the kid is a freak. The only ones who seem to accept Rudolph are his mother (need I say more) and a young doe named Clarice.

When Rudolph's charade as a 'normal' deer is exposed and all the boy deer see his garish and showy red nose, he's exiled from the 'reindeer games' and runs away from home. After a short while he meets up with a similar 'misfit' elf named Herbie. Herbie is a dandy if there ever was one. He wears pastel colored clothes, a jaunty hat and has a 'fancy' hairdo. He seduces Rudolph with a catchy tune about "I'm just a misfit," and they run off together. After a few nights on their own, they meet up with an older gentlemen named Yukon Cornelius. Clearly Mr. Cornelius is what I believe they call a "Sugar Daddy" who no doubt helps to initiate both Rudolf and Herbie into the gay lifestyle. If I weren't moderate in my views I would also say that Mr. Cornelius function is to condone organization such as NAMBLA which promotes man-boy love.

Regardless, the three new 'friends' continue there adventures and end up on the "Island of Misfit Toys" which is no doubt a vague metaphor for Manhattan - Sodom on the Hudson. This place is full of those that are 'different' and is so upsetting that I can't really discuss it in detail at this moment.

Alas, when Rudolph finally decides to return home, no doubt to beg his parents for money to continue his selfish and hedonistic lifestyle, he finds that they have gone out looking for him. Since Rudolph's parents are clearly good, God fearing people, it is only a short time before they fall into the clutches of the Abominable Snowman. A raging monster that is clearly a metaphor for the alleged 'intolerance' of God's message of judgment.

However, Rudolph and his dandified friends soon arrive and they castrate the 'monster' by pulling all his teeth. As you know this happens all the time when those seeking 'acceptance' of their behavioral choices use activist judges to take the "Thanks" out of Thanksgiving and the "Christ" out of Christmas.

I urge you and your organization to take every step possible to expose this hideous piece of pro-gay propaganda and to ensure that it doesn't poison the minds of our children. As you know, God want's us all to be exactly the same and such messages of tolerance and love have no place on the public airwaves.

Yours in Christ,


George Will Agrees with Elephant

Don't Kill the Filabuster

Hey remember this post from a few weeks ago? My discussion of why keeping the filabuster is important?

The Senate is considered the greatest deliberative body in the World. It's a truly painful concept if you job, like mine, requires you to pay close attention to what's going on, but it's role is critical to the checks and balances that are fundamental to our democracy. All states are equal in the Senate, regardless of population, state GDP, or size. It ensures that the worst instincts of the majority are tempered by unlimited debate and the ability of any Senator to stop a bill by a non-stop oratory.

Seems George Will has picked up on these thoughts too. Here's his take.

The filibuster protects minority rights, enabling government to measure and respect not merely numbers but intensity in political disputes

He's right of course.


No Blogger Wendesday

Blogger Site Down

Sorry, I couldn't log into the Blogger site yesterday, so therefor no postings. Seems to be working now though.

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