Monday, January 31, 2005


GOP Talking Points on Social Security

Interesting Stuff

But what's more interesting is that the talking points have been developed, the stratedgy laid out, the horror stories assembled, but substantive policy reccomendations are missing? Talkingpoints memo has a link the the GOP conference document on Social Security Reform.

Yes, there are some funding issues with the program, but why should I support $2 trillion in new government spending for private accounts that don't fix the underlying problem? Oh yes, and in the end I'll still pay the same amount of taxes, our country will be more in debt, and my promised benefits will be cut substantially. Am I skeptical? Hell yes...but also hopeful.


First They Came for the Smokers....

Lose weight or lose your job
Business owner who forced workers to quit smoking now wants them to get skinny, too.

While I complain a lot about the religious zealots who want to control my and others personal relationships, I've rarely talked about left wing initiatives that are equally irritating. The smoking/food police are a prime example.

I'm all for incentives to encourage employees to take better care of themselves, but this guy from Michigan seems to have taken it a bit too far. I mean, would you work for him? Is this the end of fried bolonga sandwiches?


Trouble for Wal-Mart?

New Ethics Policy May Be Unenforceable in Ohio, Other States...

Wal-Mart has reportedly adopted a stringent new ethics policy to try to curb unethical behavior among its employees. So big is the retail Giant, that suppliers will apparently do anything to curry its favor.

Wal-Mart's expanded policy includes same-sex partners and close non-marital relations. Wal-Mart's ethics policy also "requires honest and accurate" accounting, prohibits gifts from suppliers and asks associates to avoid social relationships and other conflicts of interest with vendors.

Only one problem. In the rush to contain the gay-marriage boogey-man, many states, most notably Ohio, have adopted state constitutional bans on gay marriage that go as far as to cover any legal incidents that are conferred to married couples. What this does is makes same-sex couples in the state 'legal strangers' who have no rights vis-a-vis there matter how long it has been in existance.

We've already seen creative defense attorney's get domestic battery charges dismissed because a live in couple wasn't married. It seems to me that this would extend to Wal-Mart's ethical policy as well. Covering same-sex couples, who aren't recognized by Ohio law, would create a 'special right' akin to marriage, thus becoming unconsitutional under state law.

Of course this probaly wasn't the goal of Ohio's ban, but it could very well be the effect. After ten years of working in politics the only certainty (other than death and taxes) is the law of unintended consequenses.


Trouble for Wal-Mart?

New Ethics Policy May Be Unenforceable in Ohio, Other States...

Wal-Mart has reportedly adopted a stringent new ethics policy to try to curb unethical behavior among its employees. So big is the retail Giant, that suppliers will apparently do anything to curry its favor.

Wal-Mart's expanded policy includes same-sex partners and close non-marital relations. Wal-Mart's ethics policy also "requires honest and accurate" accounting, prohibits gifts from suppliers and asks associates to avoid social relationships and other conflicts of interest with vendors.

Only one problem. In the rush to contain the gay-marriage boogey-man, many states, most notably Ohio, have adopted state constitutional bans on gay marriage that go as far as to cover any legal incidents that are conferred to married couples. What this does is makes same-sex couples in the state 'legal strangers' who have no rights vis-a-vis there matter how long it has been in existance.

We've already seen creative defense attorney's get domestic battery charges dismissed because a live in couple wasn't married. It seems to me that this would extend to Wal-Mart's ethical policy as well. Covering same-sex couples, who aren't recognized by Ohio law, would create a 'special right' akin to marriage, thus becoming unconsitutional under state law.

Of course this probaly wasn't the goal of Ohio's ban, but it could very well be the effect. After ten years of working in politics the only certainty (other than death and taxes) is the law of unintended consequenses.


Manna from Heaven?

No Fish from the Sky!

Fish Returns to Devastated Town - from the Sky


Time to Stock up on Porn, Birth Control, Liquor

Brownback Could Complicate 2008 Race

So, Kansas Senator Brownback is thinking of running for President? Egad. He's even less charismatic than Senate Majority Leader Frist, and far more conservative. I say he's a no go. Oh, maybe he'll pull a Pat Robertson (Televangelist Robertson, not lawmaker Robertson) and win Iowa (unless Hagel (R-NE) throws his hat into the ring). Maybe his plan is to try to carry the mantel of the cultural conservatives (i.e. American Taliban). He could run on Creationism, Abortion, Gays and such. How lovely.


Must Everything be a Moral Crusade?

Just once, I'd like to hear about Public Policy

Well, the GOP had their retreat in the posh confines of the Greenbriar this past week. Plotting and planning on reforming Social Security. Good for them. From what I know here's the challenges:

For the past few decades the social security fund has been in a massive surplus.
The Federal government uses that money to buy U.S. Bonds (IOUs) and spends that money now as part of the federal budget.
In 2018, the surplus will dry up and the fund will have to start cashing in the federal bonds.
By 2042, or so, the IOUs will be exhausted and the fund expenditures will exceed the current FICA Tax.

So that's the challenge. Not necessarily a crisis, but definitely a system in need of some changes. Let's look at all options, including 'personalize' (ie. private) accounts. Although as I've said before, private accounts actually drive up the cost of a solution and it only pays off if future benefits are curtailed. I think the outlines of the president's current plan are intriguing, but actually read more like a BIG GOVERNMENT DEMOCRAT plan than a republican one. (ei.- why do I have to invest in a government run program, rather than pick on myself? How many new federal employees will be required to manage 140 million private accounts?)....

Worse yet, is that some in the GOP keep harping about how they have a "moral" obligation to fix the system. As our elected representatives they have, perhaps, a fiduciary responsibility, but a moral one? When you frame a matter of public policy as a moral imperative, you set yourself up for failure. The legislative process demands compromise and how can you compromise morals?


Dreaming of Vacation

Cold and Snowy Here

I'm happy to announce that Friday, I'm leaving on vacation for a week in a warmer clime. So much to do before then, you know, like all the work I've put off until now. I delayed posting so I could finish up some tasks, but I'm on schedule, just need to keep fighting the urge to tune out and wake up on the beach on Saturday.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Good News for Gretta

Jackson '05: The Courtroom Thriller

Egad! We survived Scott Peterson, John-Bennett Ramsey, and OJ, but now get ready for the greatest show of them all-Michael Jackson's child molestation trail. Grett Van Susternen must be giddy with delight....being able to cover every excrutiating detail of this trial. My prediction, Micheal Jackson is aquitted and leaves the U.S. for good by the end of the year.


Some Good News At Last!

Iraqis Brave Bombs to Vote in Their Millions

Three Cheers for the citizens of Iraq. We let them down in the early 1990s and to a lesser extent by our mishandling of the current war. But the news from the election today is terrific. Millions of Iraqi citizens literally risked their lives to vote. Let's hope this is a major turning point in the whole situation.

Friday, January 28, 2005


Weekend Reading

State of the Union (SOTU) Edition:

Holy cow, is it really the end of January already? Funny how time flies between the annual SOTU speaches. Perhaps this year I'll TiVo it and see if Mr. Bush is really wired with an ear piece, or better yet slo-mo through the reallly awkward comments and gestures that accompany any Bush address.

Shock and awe
The gap between rhetoric and reality is growing in the White House

Anonymous message spurs calls to Capitol Hill

The Short and Long of Inaugural Addresses
For his sake—and that of his country—George W. Bush should be brief

From Time to Time: History of the State of the Union

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Why People are Turning to Blogs

Experts Agree: Al Qaeda Leader is Dead or Alive

Could this be a headline read by Kent Brockman, the newscaster on the Simpsons? No, sadly it is a subtitle from a recent CNN story. Check it out at BigBrainBoy...(via Wonkette)


I am so proud of my country

Culture of Life, Family Values, Traditional Marriage....Total Hypocrisy....

Gitmo Soldier Details Sexual Tactics


DC: It's Like Hollywood for Ugly People

Six-figure jobs: Lobbying
If making the case for a special interest is your thing, you might want to head for the Hill.


Gingrich: Father of the Revolution and RINO?

"Majority Status Can Be Fleeting"

Could it be that the architect of the 1994 GOP revolution is an EIE reader? Or maybe he's just a RINO (Republican in Name Only)..although both seem unlikely. My experience with former speaker Gingrich is rather positive. Portrayed in the media as a cold hearted corporate shill, he is, in person, a rather warm, intelligent and free thinking person. (My personal experience is the nicer a politician seems on TV the meaner they are in real life and the gruffer they come across the nicer they actually are....the distorting lens of the media if you will.)

Like him or hate him, Gingrich led the revolution which took back the House of Representatives after a generation of democrat domination. He did it by focusing on a narrow set of goals, embodied in the "Contract with America" and was actually focused on results. As the GOP rapidly atrophies into the corrupt majority, haning on to power at any means, Mr. Gingrich appears as a voice of reason....Reminding them of their true mandate.

Former House Speaker Gingrich cautioned Monday that the narrow majority enjoyed by the House Republicans could be threatened in upcoming election cycles if the GOP leaders do not re-evaluate how they govern their chamber and other factors.

"The odds are not trivial that the Republicans could lose the House either in 2006 or 2008, " Gingrich said during a panel discussion..."The size of the margin is not big enough that could comfortably say that incumbents is going to protect you."

He said, "Democrats, if the could move to the center and actually be a serious reform party, would be a formidable threat overnight."

Gingrich argued that if the focus of the GOP base shifts back to their bread and butter issues 0 such as fiscal restraint and 'good government' policies - the GOP leaders and the White House will be under pressure to deliver.
Hmmm, where have we heard that before? Oh yes, I've been saying it since last summer. How long can the GOP hang on to power by fear of terrorism and gay cartoon characters before folks wake up and realize that the party has abandoned all the principles that got them the majority in the first place?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Embarassments at Home

Marion Barry's Third ActDC's former mayor takes a new role in government

Guess who's back? Back Again? Mr. Marion "The Bitch Set Me Up" Barry is once again ensconced in my city's government.,8599,1020284,00.html?cnn=yes


Deficits Don't Matter

Because you can always invest in China

I'm no economist. In fact, in my undergraduate days at the University of Michigan, I took Macro-Economics twice. But one thing is increasingly becoming clear - For many years the United States was able to fund large deficits (both in trade and government spending) because the return on capital (money) invested in the United States was higher than elsewhere. Our vast economy was the market for the world. But now, with China's economy fast approaching $7 trillion (purchasing power parity), there's another big player emerging on the scene. One whose economy offers return on capital investment, a large and growing market for exports and a demand for oil equal to that of the United States. Meanwhile the United States continues to spend like a drunken sailor...or perhaps Mike Tyson.

There's been a lot of debate about a dramatic plunge in the dollar with catastrophic consequences for the American consumer. But more likely, at least to me, is a continued gradual erosion of the dollar, a steady diminishing of our power and one day, we wake up and find ourselves the number 2 economy and power in the world.

War cost drives record deficit

China's economy grows 9.5 percent in 2004 vs 9.3 percent in 2003

Companies belly up to juicy buffet in China


Not So Free Press

Another 'Conservative' Reporter On the Take

The 'liberal' media has Dan Rather and Jason Blair, the 'conservative' media has Armstrong Williams and now, Maggie Gallagher. Maggie is a conservative columnist most noted for her extensive denouncing of the marriage equity movement (i.e. gay marriage rights). But oops! It turns out that she has a small conflict of interest - She was a paid consultant to the the Deparment of Health and Human Services on this very topic. The list is likely to grow.

The funny thing is that the GOP used to be all over such abusive and waste use of taxpayer dollars for things like buying off so called journalists. Not anymore. Is it any wonder that people are increasingly turning away from big media to get their news and commentary from blogs?

Andrew Sullivan has a good take on this, although I think he may be too kind to Ms. Gallagher.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005


GOP vs. AARP Round 1

AARP and GOP Spar Over Poll

Yep, just as we discussed and better yet, this is only the beginning. Just wait until the debate gets well underway and Senior Citizens get added to the access of evil, are accused of supporting the vietcong and it is suddenly revealed that all folks on social security are gay.

The debate on policy will be interesting, the rhetoric and attacks on various groups will be salacious.,1282,-4753363,00.html


Private Accounts Question?

Call Me Stupid, But...

Ok, so the President may be pushing private accounts as part of larger social security reform That's all fine a good. Private accounts could yield a higher return on investment, thus negating the impact of future benefit cuts. But he's what sticks in my to speak.

When the President talks about private accounts, he mentions that individuals will be able to put up to 2% or so of their 6% FICA tax into a government managed private account. Which begs the question, why does the government have to manage it?

I'm supposing that the choice would be limited to a select number of funds? The administrative costs for tracking 140 million accounts is likely to be staggering. Couldn't we just cut the individual FICA tax by 2% and let me choose where to invest it? The IRS could require that I show proof of such an investment and impose penalties for a 4% of income penalty tax.

Doesn't that seem like a better way, a more Republican way to go about true power and responsibility to the individual? Oh, but I forget...It's a new kind of Republicanism now...One that likes big government programs....


Spend, Spend, Spend

CBO Ups Deficit Forecast by $20 Billion

The U.S. budget deficit will reach $368 billion this year before any war costs are added in, the Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday, according to a source familiar with the worse-than-expected numbers.

Throw in the Iraq war costs for the year (estimated at $80 billion) and you still get a record deficit. It's not the impact of 9/11, or the tech bubble bursting, or homeland security, but rather naked pork barrell spending and the Administration's embrace of Big-Government conservatism. How many vetoes have there been? Oh yes...none.

Of course the irony is that the cost of the Iraq war will soon top out the $200 billion dollar cost the former Bush economic advisor Lindsey forecasted before the wars start. That forecast got him fired.


It's OK to hold hands with a Star Fish

United Church of Christ is Winning Me Over

My goodness, I don't know whose doing the outreach for the United Church of Christ, but they sure are saavy about it. Check out their most recent press release.

Joining the animated fray, the United Church of Christ today (Jan. 24) said that Jesus' message of extravagant welcome extends to all, including SpongeBob Squarepants - the cartoon character that has come under fire for allegedly holding hands with a starfish.

"Absolutely, the UCC extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob," the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, said, only partly in jest. "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

For that matter, Thomas explained, the 1.3-million-member church, if given the opportunity, would warmly receive Barney, Big Bird, Tinky-Winky, Clifford the Big Red Dog or, for that matter, any who have experienced the Christian message as a harsh word of judgment rather than Jesus' offering of grace.

The UCC's welcome comes in the wake of laughable accusations by James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, that the popular SpongeBob and other well-known cartoon characters are crossing "a moral line" by stressing tolerance in a national We Are Family Foundation-sponsored video that will be distributed to U.S. schools on March 11, 2005.

Later, an assistant to Dobson called SpongeBob's participation in the video "insidious."

Thomas said, on the contrary, it is Dobson who is crossing the moral line for sending the mistaken message that Christians do not value tolerance and diversity as important religious values.

Brilliant. I'm glad to see fairminded Christians fighting back against the 'kooky' religious right who are turning God's message into an anti-tolerance joke, but a joke that brings them cash and political power. Halielulia UCC!

But the clincher is the photo!


Department of Ironic Headlines

Bush Hails Progress Toward 'Culture of Life'

Torture in Iraq Still Routine, Report Says
Detainees Beaten, Hung by Wrists, Shocked by Security Forces, Rights Group Finds

Yes, we certainly are making progress aren't we.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Are Congressional Staffers Overpaid? No

"Congressional officials have raised the maximum basic annual pay rate available to House staffers to $156,848, nearly as much as Vice President Cheney's salary of $181,400..."

Big deal. As a former Chief of Staff for a Congressman let me tell you this, these folks deserve it. Working for Congress is fascinating, but within DC, it's widely known that such jobs pay well bellow what the private sector would pay for the same or similar work. Many of the issues that come up for votes are extremely complicated, like ERISA defined benefit plans, Medicare, International Trade, Financial Services Regulation, etc. You can pay some young professional from your home state to provide counsel on such matters, or you could just surrender the research and advice role to lobbyists.


Back to Business of the Hill

This should be interesting

As I've mentioned before, I welcome the debate over America's government funded pension program-aka Social Security. While the program may not be in 'crisis', there certainly seem to be some structural problems that need to be addressed and bully for Bush for taking this on. A healthy debate will benefit us all (kind of like a healthy debate on Iraq should have...but we didn't have that did we?). Anyway, so what if no one agrees just yet, it's the creative process of spirited public debate that helps craft sound public policy decissions...and goodness knows we've been short of those for some time.

Snowe Wary Over Social Security
Moderate GOP Senator Voices Doubts About Bush's Plans

New Strategy on Social Security
With Some Risk, Bush Officials Invoke Clinton, Moynihan



Back in Business

Got Heat?

Yes! The gas company has been working on my street all day. It appears that I wasn't the only one who woke up this morning to a frigid house. Anyhow, I took a vacation day to deal with the situation and am now relaxing at home...


It's Cold, and There Are Wolves After Me...

No Heat!

Well, DC missed the brunt of the big winter storm. We got about 5 inches of snow and it's cold as heck, but otherwise normal. Oh, my furnace went out twice this weekend. It appears that the gas installation I was waiting forever to get, was done improperly, so my line keeps freezing up. Now heat this morning, 50 degrees inside the house. I'm running back home to meet the technician...more blogging later today..after my heat gets turned on...

Friday, January 21, 2005


Religious Right Risks Becoming a Caricature

Weirder and Weider...

Oh, it's always easy to take pot shots at evangelicals, the leadership of the Catholic Church or any of these 'moral majority' types. It's harder to recognize the good works that the vast majority of the people we lump into these blocs do, because their leadership tends to focus like a laser beam, on a few very dogmatic issues. The whole obession with gay men and women and the right leaning 'pro-family' organizations is a great example. At what point does all they hysteria over the 'vast-gay-conspiracy' make them such caricatures that their voice on issues that actually matter is no longer heard? Many would say they've already crossed over... I think I'd have to agree.

Athens chief fumes at US lewdness claims

Children's TV Unites to Launch Pro-Homosexual Campaign of 'Tolerance'SpongeBob, Arthur, Pooh, Bob the Builder, Little Mermaid, Many Others Enlisted in Stealth Effort


Listening to the Speeches

Hey, I'm all for spreading liberty....but

Mr. Bush's speech/sermon yesterday was pretty good, measured against his usual fare. But all this talk of spreading liberty and human dignity really got me thinking. Oh, I don't doubt Mr. Bush's sincerity, but would I really buy into his speech if, for example, I was...

1) The mother or father of a slain U.S. soldier in Iraq?
2) A same-sex couple, vilified in the last election and barred from having even basic legal protections of their relationship?
3) A woman living in Saudi Arabia?
4) A Christian refugee in Darfur (that oiless enclave of Sudan)?
5) A detainee in Gitmo, or the widow or children of a dead torture victim in Iraq?
6) A citizen of Vietnam, the Philippines, Iran, Pakistan or one of the many other countries where we supported right wing dictators simply because they were anti-communist?

The principles Mr. Bush spoke of were noble and true. But its in the uniform application of these goals where we seem to get things all mixed up.


Welcome to Bush II:

A Day Off for Elephant

Wow, on behalf of all DC residents let me just say, am I glad this is over. Security was tighter than a drum here in DC and road closures made going anywhere totally impossible. Elephant's office was closed as a result, so I spent the day at home, reflecting on the state of the nation (i.e. watching Road Rules/Real World Battle of the Sexes)...which if you think about it, is kind of like watching the House or Senate....

Hope all of you who were in town to celebrate had a good time. But for pete's sake go home already!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Suggestions for Thursday

This Month's Atlantic is Just, Well Stellar!

Regular readers will know that Elephant is a huge fan of the Atlantic Monthly. Oh, many will claim it's because I've been fortunate to have spent some time with the magazine's publisher as his guest at the Kennedy Center Honors, or cavorting on junkets to St. Bart's, but seriously, it's a rare publication that actually challenges my conceptions from time to time.

This months issue is just stellar. It's their State of the Union issue and is chocked full of great stuff on the economy, terrorism, social issues and such. Do your self a huge favor and go grab a copy this week. It's very interesting reading.

Ten Years Later (Incredibly long future-terrorism article by Richard Clarke)
“Then the second wave of al-Qaeda attacks hit America� A leading expert on counterterrorism imagines the future history of the war on terror. A frightening picture of a country still at war in 2011



Heading for the Hills

It's getting rather Kooky in DC

Well, Thursday's the big day, and I sincerely hope that everyone who is in DC to celebrate Pres. Bush's inauguration has a great time. But Elephant will be spending Thursday in an undisclosed location. (Getting some quality time in with the TiVo).

Inaugural festivities can be fun for the uninitiated. Dressing up in your finery, heading to a glamorous location to dine in a banquet setting with big named politicians and C-list celebrities, while networking with true insiders who can help your career.

Or of course, after attending such events over the years, one could have a more jaundiced view. Cramming your expanding waistline into your old tuxedo and heading off to some windowless ballroom to drink watered down drinks, eat a rubber chicken dinner while a bad bands plays blandish songs. Hanging with with a bunch of people you already spend way to much time with and who'll call you next week for another $2,000 donation for some lame cause or angle on getting some lucrative consulting contract from your office.

The reality is these things are a little of both and usually fun none-the-lees. But Elephant isn't really a huge fan of Bush's policies, so rather than hitting the circuit and toadying up to folks, I'm staying home. But here's hoping for a prosperous four years for all Americans.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Just Asking...

Is the U.S. being out innovated?

France shows off tallest bridge

Airbus Unveils Monster Passenger Jet,2933,144683,00.html

Taiwan tops out tallest building

Shanghai's Maglev Launched:Revolutionary Step for Eurasia


Skeptical, But Hopeful

Is there any other way to feel?

WaPo says 'most' Americans are hopeful, yet skeptical of the second Bush term, with a plurality hoping it will be better than the first. I can't think of any recent president whose second term accomplishments were particularly stellar, can you? Best rule of thumb is to expect more of the same. Earnest-folksy-ness, fiscal mismanagement, bold-but poorly executed foreign policy, war.

Political Divisions Persist After Election
Nation Unsure, Hopeful About Bush, Poll Finds

Monday, January 17, 2005


FMA: What did I tell you about this?

Bush won't push FMA in 2005.

Of course he won't. This whole gay marriage thing is too useful as a scare tactic to drive voters to the polls.

Elephant said before the election and after that the GOP has never been serious about passing FMA, the lack of a national consensus on same-sex marriage allows for state initiatives and general scare tactics to drive conservative, evangelical voters to the polls. But even Elephant knows that the typical religious right voter isn't that stupid and will increasingly ask themselves, is it worth it?

Of course just as the attacks on traditional marriage seem to have abated for 2005, don't be surprised to see the whole issue reemerge as a crisis in 2006. When a tactic works at the ballot box, it's a sure bet it will be used again and again and again.


Holding the Line on the Filibuster

For Some in the GOP, preserving the traditions of the Senate reflects values

Senator Frist has been rattling his saber on the role of the Senate in confirming President Bush's judicial nominees. He repeatedly claims that the use of the filibuster as a means of blocking judicial nominees from a floor vote in 'unprecedented' and 'unconstitutional'. (Of course he fails to mention that under President Clinton, he supported filibusters of judicial candidates-alas!). But is seems not all the elephants are on the wagon for Frist's power grab. The usual moderates, Collins, snowy, hazel, McCain, chaff seem to be balking, but more conservative members are expressing doubt, if not horror, at the concept. Senators Warner, summon and perhaps Cochran and Stevens joining the fray. That would be a vote on killing the filibuster at 46 yeas to 54 nags. If that's the whip count, the nay votes could go up as the 'rats' dessert the sinking legislative ship.

President Bush has had more than 95% of his judicial appointments confirmed by the Senate. As I've said before, it's not worth destroying the unique role of the Senate just to have a confirmation rate akin to North Korea of Soviet Russia. Bully for those in the GOP who oppose this ill begotten plan.

GOP Moderates Wary of Filibuster Curb
A Few Holdouts Could Block Move to Cut Off Debate on Judicial Nominees


A Crazy Week in Washington

Party Central

Well, it's inaugural week in DC, which, party, party! Oh yes, many will be rejoicing the reelection of President Bush and his 'visionary' and 'spiritually guided' leadership. Others will be celebrating the fact that candidates they helped funneled campaign donations to have been elected, thus assuring them crucial access. Others, like me, will be celebrating the fact we can have a somewhat peaceful transition of power in this county, that and the fact that Thursday is a Holiday in DC and I don't have to go to work!

Friday, January 14, 2005


Experiment Update: Fly-I Responds

Hmmm....this seems almost like it could be generated by some program that scans complaint emails for key words then gerates a stardard response. Personally, I like the "right now wait times are only 2 minutes." Well, I gave em a chance and while the answer is polite, it really doesn't address my question which was "Can you cancel my flight, or absent that, have an agent call me."

As I type this I'm on hold on Fly-i's 800 number. The timer on my office phone says that I've been on hold for 11:00 minutes.

Anyway, here's there response:

Hello Elephant,

Thank you for contacting us. All changes and cancellations must be made by calling 1-800-FLY-FLYi (1-800-359-3594). This is to ensure individual security for our customers. Currently, there is only a two minute wait to speak with a representative.

Cancellations will be subject to a $25 fee per passenger, with the remaining balance applied as a credit to your iClub account for travel on Independence Air within the next 12 months. Cancellations must be made prior to scheduled departure. Changes will also be subject to a $25 fee per passenger plus any difference in the applicable rebooked fare. If the new fare is lower, the difference in fare will be applied as a credit to your iClub account and can be used for travel on Independence Air within the next 12 months. Changes must be made prior to scheduled departure.

As far as your wait-time, I apologize for the inconvenience. Please remember, any company whichprovides a service to customers usually experiences a high number of calls in the middle of the day and around early evening. During the morning our phones are busy. It's best to call late morning and after business hours. One of our
agents would be happy to speak with you.

Additionally, we understand your concern about recent media reports discussing the financial health of our parent company, FLYi, Inc. Rest assured that while the economic pressures we are facing today are common to the entire airline industry (driven in large part by fuel prices that are at historic all-time highs) our Independence Air flights are continuing exactly as scheduled. Our operations are proceeding the same as they always have been, and we are continuing to confidently book customers for flights well into the foreseeable future. As you may know, the airline industry is undergoing great upheaval, but our entire Independence Air team of almost 5,000 dedicated airline professionals is working extra hard every day to create a different kind of travel experience by providing great service at very low

We greatly appreciate the tens of thousands of emails and notes we are getting from our customers who are excited about having a new low-fare airline alternative. Again, thanks for flying FLYi! We hope you will continue to think of Independence Air as YOUR new airline. Best regards, Matthew Customer Services


(My Guess is that it is the Matthew 5000.b automated customer response server)

Also, don't color me surprised when Fly-i folds sometime this year.


Weekend Reading

Oops, We did it again edition

Seems to me that when it comes to the debacle that is Iraq, the administration is handing our some welcome mia culpas. First, Bush applogizes for the 'Bring it on" comment (after insurgents have pretty effectively - brought it on). Second, there seems to be a growing consensus in the intelligence community that Iraq is becoming worse, even emerging as a new hot bed for terrorists. Hey, I've been very critical of the Administration all along for it's faulty plans, it's insufficient number of troops and its inablity to admit mistakes on the Iraq war. Let's hope that these admissions are the begining of a reassessment of our current policy.

Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground
War Created Haven, CIA Advisers Report

Bush: Comments had 'unintended consequence'

Prediction: India, China will be economic giants


How Washington Works

How to Increase a Quota, Without Increasing a Quota

Ever wondered about the logic of politics? Here's a good example. Many hospitality industries in the United States are unable to find qualified America workers to fill many of the positions in their establishments - like housekeeping, grounds crews, waitstaff, etc. So, many businesses rely on non-skilled temporary foreign workers under a category of Visas titled H-2B.

H-2B visas are granted on a three year basis. To obtain an H-2B worker an employer must first look for qualified Americans and make a showing the the Department of Labor that they have done so. If the labor department certifies, (and in some cases even if they don't) the employer can sponsor an H-2B visa applicant, who in turn must provide proof to ability to exit the country when the visa is expired. The government limits the number of H-2B Visas to 66,000 per fiscal year, and employers can only submit an application 120 days in advance.

Because of the growing economy (even sluggishly growing) and the unwillingness of some Americans to take service jobs (in my industry they pay fairly well at around $15/hr average) on a seasonal basis, employers are in a bind looking for workers. For the first time ever, the 66,000 H-2B visa cap was reached in February of 2004. This year it was reached in January. Which meand that many resorts and summer only facilities will be left without staff. (The related H-1B Visa quota for tech workers was reached in one day!). Anyway, my industry and many others need more seasonal workers, we need the cap raised.

Now here's the great irony. Republicans, generally thought of as 'pro-business' are bitterly split on immigration issues and voting to allow aliens into the country, even on a temporary basis for work isn't a politically popular vote to make. In fact, it 'ain't' gonna happen. (although in another great irony, Senator Kennedy is willing to sponsor a cap increase, but the GOP would never let that pass. Thanks anyway Ted)

So, with the goal of raising the cap by 40,000 slots what's a congressman to do?

Well, here's the solution. Under the current H-2B visa program, applicant's get a three year visa. However, that visa is counted each year against the quota. So in reality, if you assume that every year roughly 1/3 of the H-2B visas expire, there are really only 22,000 visa slots a year. Rather than increasing the cap, Congress could exempt those who have already been approved for the program, thus creating 44,000 or so new slots. Better yet, this technical fix means that legislators don't have to go on record as voting to raise the immigration quota.

This is how Elephant spent his Thursday.


Not 70s, Snow!

Balmy Weather and Wet Basements

Well, yesterday was very interesting. First off, the temps topped off in the low 70s here in DC on what is traditionally the coldest week of the year. Also, we got hit with some of the intense rain that has been soaking the rest of the country. It's being reported that we got up to three inches last night. Sadly, I noticed some water in the basement. Nothing super serious, but clearly some leakage. Uggh! Will have to attempt home repairs over the weekend.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Now this is News

WHFS Changes Its Tune to Spanish
Alternative Rock Pioneer Targets Latino Audience

Wow! This is a shocker! HFS has long been the alt-rock station to beat in DC. But of course as my angst ridden twenties gave way to my care free thirties, my appetite for alt-rock musings has fallen off. Besides, there is a huge market for Latino radio here in DC, so good for them. Hope you make a buck or two.


An Experiment

Independence Air Makes Me Angry

Ok, from time to time I've written about the new Airline here in DC, Independence Air (aka: Fly-i). At first it seemed like a dream come true, competition and direct flights to cities in the Mid-West without having to connect (ala NorthWest) through Detroit. Plus, the pricing was great. A ticket home for the holidays this year cost me 1/3 of a normal fare.

But alas, you get what you pay for. Fly-i is no longer serving cities in MI other than Detroit, in fact as I mentioned earlier, they dropped me (without an email or call) from my flight home for Christmas when they pulled out the Lansing market. Now, I booked a flight to Boston originally leaving at 9:00 am, but that flights been dropped and they've rebooked me on a 6:10 am flight. (Note: Dulles is about an hour from my house). No biggie, I just found another airline with better times and booked a different ticket. Problem is that when I try to cancel my ticket on Independence Airlines website, it reports that the site is overloaded. Same thing with the 800 number. Hmmmm....does anyone see a pattern here?

Anyway, leaving no stone unturned, I've tried to leverage you, dear reader, in my quest to get something accomplished. My email to Fly-i yesterday.

Dear Fly-I:

I just can't seem to catch a break with you all. I've booked a flight on your airline for February 23 from DCA to BOS (returning the same day). My confirmation code is xxxxxx. Unfortunately, my flight schedule has been changed by Fly-i and I no longer wish to utilize your airline for my flight. I had a similarly disappointing experience when your cut backs to Lansing, Michigan left me without a flight home for the holidays.

Rather than being contacted by your company, I found out through an article in USAToday. However, when I managed to get through to a Fly-i representative, they satisfactorily rectified the situation. I hope that same successful outcome can be achieved here.

I would like to cancel my flight, however, when I attempt to do so on your website, I get a message saying that my transaction cannot be completed because of heavy use. Similarly, when I call your 1-800-number the wait times are so long that I have to drop the call. I've been trying since Monday to accomplish this task.

Can you please cancel my flight, or absent that, have one of your agents call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Three days, four calls and an unusable website are enough for me.

Please also note that I run a political "Blog" titled Elephant in Exile (htttp:// I have approximately 200 unique readers every month (not large bay any means, but a loyal group). I have, and plan to continue to share my experiences with your airline in this forum.

Sadly, what started off as praise (a competitor for Northwest to the Michigan market) has now turned to criticism and predictions of your company being folded back into United. However, I'm hoping that this customer service opportunity will again allow me to sing your praises. Help!


Ok, this is mostly an exercise undertaken for your amusement. We'll see what happens. The first 'autoresponse' I got back told me to log onto their website or call....Oh the customer service Irony!


Fixing Social Security/Iraq Twofer

Army looks to retirees to bolster forces


WMD Before and After

But Does it Matter?

AP has a good posting of the Administration comments on Iraq WMD before the invasion and post invasion. Just a little change in tone. But, we've all known this for some time now and it didn't seem to be a factor in reelecting the President. More important is that now, two years later, we need to start getting things right in Iraq if we are going to suceed.

Bush administration comments on WMDs

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Final Word: No WMD

A likely topic for many bloggers today, and an interesting article in the post.

Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month

Bush has expressed disappointment that no weapons or weapons programs were found, but the White House has been reluctant to call off the hunt, holding out the possibility that weapons were moved out of Iraq before the war or are well hidden somewhere inside the country. But the intelligence official said that possibility is very small.

So, do we now shift to the secondary argument? Sadaam was a tyrant and tortured his people? And now that he's gone, the people are 'safer' and there is no longer any 'torture' in the country?

Elephant is all for using America's might as part of its foriegn policy. But no WMD, $220 Billion in taxpayer money and worse yet 1,200 lives, I'm still unsure of the utility of this endevor.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Pinch me, I'm Dreaming!

Apple to make $499 Mac, $99 iPod

Let me tell you this - A year ago, I was burdened with major windows problem on my Toshiba laptop. A security flaw in widows allowed my computer to be infected and after that, it was never the same. I lost tons of data, personal writings and music files. Having just gotten an Ipod, I was enthralled at the ease of use and brilliant design of the product. So, in the market for a new computer, I bought an apple iBook.

In the year of ownership my iBook has never been infected by a virus or spyware, it has never crashed causing a loss of data, and I can easily move files between my apple at home and my PC at work via email or USB keychain memory. (I have microsoft office for Mac, which not surprisingly, does crash from time to time). Anyway, I went from someone who thought fans of Apple computers were a bit 'out-there' like Trekkies (or Trekkers) to clearly becoming one of them.

Do yourself a huge favor and by an apple, it makes your computing so much easier.

(Disclaimer: This political commentator is not currently nor has ever been on the payroll of apple computers).


Purging the Moderates

Rudy's Tarnished, Now McCain is Targeted

First it was the tarnishing of St. Rudy for his role in the Kerik nomination fiasco (which some say was a devious plot by Rove to hurt Rudy's chances in 2008). Now, it appears McCain is facing the reckoning.

In the Presidential election the extent of Senator McCain's support for the President was surprising. I mean there's the minimal "Bush is the best candidate" lip service I expected, but McCain really did hit the road and did his best to help Bush out. This, of course, was after his brutal treatment at the hands of Bush/Rove in the South Carolina Primary in 2000, where McCain was accused of being gay, a traitor to his country, and mentally unstable. But the good Senator joined the Bush bandwagon for reasons beyond my understanding.

His reward? The Senate Leadership is thinking of reducing the Commerce Committees jurisdiction over telecom reform and diluting the committee chairman's power. Oh, and John McCain is the Commerce Committee Chairman.

Commerce Shakeup May Cut Out McCain


The Calm Before the Storm

Forces Gathering, Battle Lines Being Drawn

Yes I understand that there has been a dearth of political discussion on EIE. That's partly because there isn't really much going on beyond the inaugural, organizations plans on the Hill and drafting battle plans for the legislative battles to come. I'm cautiously optimistic on social security reform, although I'll need to run the numbers before I pass judgment. Republicans already seem to be fraying on this issue. Also, this is another one of those benchmark months in Iraq with elections fast approaching. Another underperformance there will weaken Bush's hand politically. And of course we have the ailing Chief Justice whose departure will turn the city upside down and bring legislative business to a grinding halt. So, the enjoy the calm before the storm, it's going to be a bumpy ride.


Goodbye Fly-I

Elephant, Others Abandon Independence Air

As a frequent traveler to the Midwest I was thankful for a competitor to the all powerful and mediocre Northwest Airlines. My trips home for the holidays would often cost more than a ticket to Paris, Rome or London. That's why I jumped at the chance to be a customer of Independence Airlines. When they announced direct flights from Dulles to Lansing I bought four tickets the first day they were available. Unfortunately, they dropped service to Lansing and even dropped me from the flight home for Christmas without any notice. (Thank goodness I read an article in the paper and figured it out.). Last week I purchased a ticket to Boston departing Dulles at 9:00am. Yesterday I received a notice that my flight had been cancelled and I've been put on a 6:10 am flight. Hmmm, Dulles is about 40 minutes away by cab, so I'd need to get up by 4:00 am to make my flight. I don't think so.

Thanks for trying Independence Air, but I think I'll be looking elsewhere for value priced flights. (PS- Your frequent flier program is lame.)....

Flyi Will Return Up to 20 Jets to Major Creditor
Layoffs Start as Carrier Cuts Number of Flights


Private U.S. Donations to Asia Top $300 Million


Taxation Without Representation

Government Forces DC to Spend Homeland Security Funds on Inaugural

You know, I get pretty tired of hearing that I should expect to give up my right to representation because I live in the Nations Capitol. This argument makes no sense to me. The District of Columbia has more residents than Wyoming (home of Dick Cheney) and its resident's pay $19 billion a year in federal income tax, more than Kentucky, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia. In addition to this, unlike most cities at the heart of DC is the federal government, so while New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles have a city center rich in tax paying businesses, DC's heart is the freeloading federal government which pays no property taxes, or city taxes.

What makes matters worse, is that the Feds frequently force the city (to which they pay no taxes and consistently underfund in federal outlays) to pay for a wide rage of security operations for the federal government. Police overtime for the World Bank meetings frequently run into the tens of millions of dollars and now the feds are leaving us with the security bill for the inaugural and they're forcing us to use our limited federal Homeland Security outlays to pay for it.

I used to think that many of the problems with DC arose from the city government, after all we have Marion Barry. But that's only a small part and besides, DC electing crooks and liars makes us no different than any other city. But a great deal of my beloved city's problems arise from the federal government not respecting our rights and giving us a say. Of course this commentary isn't directed solely at the current majority party. The GOP has been quite forthright in saying the don't believe the District should have voting rights. The Dems paid lip service to us for years and did nothing. A pox on both your houses!

U.S. tells D.C. to pay inaugural expenses

Monday, January 10, 2005


I-POD Shame Index: 2005 Update

Despite the fact that everyone now has an I-pod, I'm still a huge fan. Nothing makes a commute better than being tuned out to your own private radio station.

So, in the interests of self deprecation, here's my most recent I-pod Shame Index. Top songs listened to for the past week.

Shame index level: Moderate

1). Family Affair - Mary J. Blige
2). I Feel For Your - Chaka Kahn
3). The Way You Move - OutKast
4). All Over the World - ELO
5). Fallen - Sarah McLaughlin
6). Golden - Jill Scott
7). Best of My Love - Mary J. Blige
8.) Freak of Nature - Anastasia
9.) Blues for Brother George - Archie Shepp
10.) Come on Over - Christina Aguilera

In my defense, I must say that I listen to a lot of cheesy pop songs on the stair master which tends to skew the results. But then again, my cheesy-ness should not surprise regular readers...


The Rights Answer to Dan Rather

Armstrong Williams News is Sad, disturbing

Again, what the heck's going on with the GOP? There used to be a time when they would rightfully rant about the pervasive power of the federal government, now it seems, there's no avenue of federal power they'll leave unexplored in their quest to become a 'permanent majority'. Can you imagine the uproar if this happened under Clinton?

Armstrong Williams was paid, with money from the Department of Education, to talk up No Child Left Behind. Not only in ads, but also mentioning it in the context of his program. This is beyond sleazy. Of course any commentator, be it Elephant or Mr. Williams have only one commodity to sell, the credibility of their opinions. Mr. Williams sold himself out and should be made a laughing stock because of it. To his credit Mr. Williams seems to be taking responsiblity for his actions.

Worse still, this undermines the credibility of the Department of Education in selling the virtues of NCLB to areas that may benefit from it most, inner city schools.

Media distributor severs ties with commentator


So I'm not crazy after all...

At least on my mystery allergy attack

Postings last week were light because Elephant felt under the weather. Sneezey, watery-itchy eyes, sniffles. I've never been a sufferer of allergies, but the mild weather here in DC is certainly making my life miserable. It's supposed to be in the 60's most of the week and even up to 70 on Thursday. Thank goodness you can by claritin over the counter now.

Warm weather causes rare winter allergy season in South

Friday, January 07, 2005


A Blurry Friday

When the Breakfast meeting drags into lunchtime...

Just got back from a long breakfast meeting and getting ready to go to what will likely be a longish lunch meeting. Weekend reading postings will take place later this afternoon.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


ARRP Watch

The Newest Member of the Axis of Evil

AARP has announced that it would oppose the emerging plan from President Bush to 'save' social security. Elephant predicted that we should expect Bush political allies to give the AARP the "Swiftboat" treatment ala John Kerry and John McCain. Well, here's an early indication of the attacks to come. From the conservative message testing lab called "Fox News"

AARP Rakes in Cash,2933,143473,00.html


Interview Amnesia

Good or Bad

Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I had an press interview scheduled for late afternoon over the National Public Radio HQ on Mass. Ave. Talking about the Constitutional right of freedom of association and discrimination. I spent Tuesday night reviewing my talking points and answering mock questions. Of course when I get into the studio and work through the interview I have no recollection of what I said. Of course that may be a result of preparation and I was on autopilot, but I doubt it.

So, if sometime next week you hear some moron on NPR talking about freedom of association....that's probably me.


Goodbye Crossfie...We won't miss you


Funny thing is that a 'journalist' like CNN's Tucker Carlson probably thinks that criticism of his sorely lack performances is some sort of badge of honor for his 'conservative' views. He's wrong. Watching Carlson and Begala on Crossfire is more excruciating than having to watch 12 hours of Judge Judy, the Swan and Who's Your Daddy all rolled into a single program. For example.

When discussing the Tsunami in South Asia, Carlson asked a decent question, "Could something similar happen in the U.S." But then went on to ask if were time for views to sell their property in Malibu and the Hamptons. Sorry Tucker, most of your red state viewers don't know what state the Hamptons are in and think that Malibu is an adjective that defines a type of Barbie doll. My generation can do much better than this. Hurray for CNN for 1) Not renewing Tucker's contract and 2) Canceling Crossfire.

Oh, and if I'm not being clear enough here, let me quote Wonkette on this issue. She always sums things up best.

Despite the chatter on today's "Crossfire" that seemed to hint at Tucker's departure, we hear that it's not that Tucker is leaving "Crossfire", it's that "Crossfire" is leaving "Crossfire". CNN said to be canning the show, replacing it with monkeys throwing their own shit at each other.

She's so right....


Under the Weather

Wow, pretty much the whole country is getting story weather. DC's been an oasis of moderation thankfully with unusually warm temps and sun. Today is cold and rainy. One of those days you have to pry yourself from the sheets. To compound everything I have a head clutchingly painful sinus headache. Postings will probably be light today.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Congress is Back

Let the Sniping Begin

Well, it didn't take long for things to start to fall apart in the new Congress. First Majority Leader Frist gave a welcoming address that ammounted to 'if you do what I say, then all will be fine" and then the Gonzales confirmation hearings began. So far it turns out that the controversial 'torture' memo wasn't written by Mr. Gonzales, but by Cheney's attorney. Gee how surprising. No accountability, no oversight.

Controversy ahead of Gonzales confirmation hearings


Unfornate Headline

Official Reveals Details of Bush SS Plan

Yes, those of us who are skeptical about the massive expansion of federal power have been expecting this announcement for some time....but fortunately it's not about 'jack-booted thugs' but rather Social Security.,2933,143303,00.html


TSA: Testicle Security Agency

Flying Just Keeps Getting More Annoying

The Transportation Security Administration plans to begin testing the two new machines by February or March. One, called a Trace Portal, shoots small puffs of air at passengers as they walk through it to detect any explosive residue on their clothing. Another machine, called the Backscatter, works as a kind of X-ray to reveal items hidden beneath travelers' clothing. Privacy groups criticized the machine for revealing too much of the body because it displays clear outlines of private areas.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005



Noted Gossip Columnist Says Justice Out by July

Ok, I usually don't turn to gossip columnist Cindy "Only in New York Kids" Adams for political news, but in her posting today she reports that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor may step down in July. O'Connor, a conservative, none-the-less has been a moderate influence on the Court. She's been the swing vote on a variety of important issues of individual liberty. Her vacancy, more so that Rehnquists, could have profound effects on the direction of the court. Stock up on birthcontrol and porn while you still can.

Not to mention that handling two appointments will bring the Senate to a schreecning halt. Tax reform, Social Security Reform, Intellingence reform...forgetaboutit.


Sullivan: On Gonzales and Torture

Andrew Sullivan hits the nail on the head (so to speak) on the Gonzales nomination to AG. Hearings start this week.

GONZALES AND TORTURE: In my opinion, no one who has enabled and sanctioned the potential and actual use of torture should become attorney general of the United States. But I'm not the president; and he doesn't see it that way. And the people who re-elected him had plenty of opportunity to avail themselves of the fact that this administration has quietly enabled torture of inmates in American custody, and that Gonzales played a critical role in making the legal case for such previously outlawed practices. The Bush administration's use of torture - to the point of death in at least five cases and possibly 23 more - was one reason I found it impossible to support the president's re-election. But this is a democracy. And my candidate lost. Gonzales isn't being nominated to the Supreme Court; he's being nominated to become the president's chief law enforcer; and, in general, the president deserves the benefit of the doubt on his own picks. Should the Democrats make a stink? Of course they should. The hearings are an opportunity to raise awareness of what this administration has done in dozens of hell-hole prisons around the globe - some of which we will never even know about. The Gonzales argument that the president has the right to circumvent all anti-torture laws because, as commander-in-chief, there should be no limits on his conduct of the war is an argument worth airing. So let's air it. Let the president and his attorney general defend it. In public.

I couldn't agree more. As I stated last week, do we really want a person who enabled torture and the prisoner abuse scandal to be our head law enforcement officer? There used to be a time were good republican's fought against an all powerful federal government, alas...they're aren't many of us left.


GOP Curbs Its Hubris

Retreats from Ethics Rule Change, Declares Victory

Retreating in the face of a political furor and trepidation within their ranks, House GOP leaders surprisingly reversed themselves Monday night and reinstituted a party rule that requires any member of the leadership who is indicted to step down from his or her post. The rule change was originally made in late 2004 to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who is under investigation for his role in influencing 2002 state legislative races in Texas.

But only because good men and women within and outside the GOP spoke up.


Tsunami: God's Vengence

You gotta love Fred Phelps. He's America's answer to the Taliban, Hitler and perhaps Stalin all rolled into one. The affable Phelps thanks God both for killing 3,000 Americans on 9/11 and potentially another 3,000 in the tsunami because the U.S.A. hasn't purged our country of homosexuals.

"God sent Tsunami [sic] last week to execute vengeance upon another 3,000," Phelps writes, referring to the original approximately 3,000 killed on Sept. 11, "carcasses swallowed up in Asian jungles, and concerning each of whom it may be said: 'He shall be buried with the burial of an ass.' Jer. 22:19.'"

The link to Phelps website is overloaded, so here's another site that links to his content. (Warning: Strong language, objectionable content).

Why link to such a ridiculous site? Because extremists like Phelps are the engine behind the current "protect marriage' movement seeking state bans on gay nuptuals. He's the fountainhead for the 'milder' version of homophobia infecting the GOP. Take a good look at one of the voices of 'moral values'. Like what you see?


Will the Socail Security Promise Be Broken? Yup!

Private Accounts designed to ease the blow of major benefit cuts

I was in a meeting before the holidays and asked a stupid question. "How will individual accounts under social security help solve the funding issues facing the program." Everyone just kind of looked at me. The fact is that private accounts, or the limited concept of private accounts talked about by the Bush Administration, do nothing to solve the funding issues in the social security program, rather they actually aggarevate it. But the hope is, I guess, that a higher return on those funds (up to $1,000/yr.) will allow the government to cut back promised benefits for future retirees (ie.- us). How much of a reduction are we talking about? According to the WaPo, my generation will see benefit cuts of between 25 and 45%. (Of course it won't realy be a 'cut', oh no, a change in indexing that will 'slow the growth' of unfunded liabilities -most likley).

I welcome the debate on this issue. The federal retirement program does have some funding issues, although I am not convinced it is as bad as people say. I'm more in the Lindsey Grahm camp of upping the threshold of income taxable for the program (currently FICA cuts off on income over $90K). An easier fix.

But make no mistake, the future benefit cuts to Social Security are in part, the cost of the tax cuts and war in Iraq today. Call me in 25 years to discuss if it was worth it.

Social Security Formula Weighed
Bush Plan Likely to Cut Initial Benefits

Monday, January 03, 2005


High on My Reading List for 2005

Christine Todd Whitman: It's My Party Too.

I'm with you Governor!,,0_1594200408,00.html


Government Determines Torture is Wrong

But Life In Prison without a Trial is Ok!

Gee it only took abouttwo years to figure this one out. Talk about moral values. The administration is now backing away from a legal memo (drafted by AG nominee Gonzales) that defined torture of prisoners in the narrowest of terms. Gonzales's nomination hearings are likely to be brutal, although I doubt they'll strip him and attach electrodes to his genitalia, at least not literally. But is Gonzales's loosey-goosey reading of treaties and the Consitution to allow the government the greatest power possible really the person we want as are head law enforcement person? Maybe....

U.S. revises its definition of torture


But at the same time there's talk about interring, for life, those captured in the war on terror. That outcome is fine by me, but what bugs the elephant is that the life detentions will be done, without trial or even any forum where the government can provide evidence of reasons to detain these folks. The birth of the American Gulag if you will. Now, I'm not jumping on the ACLU bandwagon here and I don't think that terror suspects (who are noncitizens) deserve the full legal benefits of U.S. citizens, but even the most basic, independent review of the reasons for the detentions would help ensure that there are no mistakes and that innocent individuals aren't denied their liberty without due process. But I forget, the U.S. government in its current incarnation doesn't make mistakes.

Long-Term Plan Sought For Terror Suspects


Rehnquist is Right

Judicial Independence Important to Democracy


A List A Mile Long

Back to the Grind

First and foremost, thank you global warming. The weather here in Washington, DC this holiday weekend averaged in the 60s. With Saturday making it to 70 degrees.

But now that the winter holidays are over, Elephant, and everyone else in Washington, are facing to do lists a mile long as we gear up to support/oppose many of the legislative items on deck for the new session. There's a lot that the GOP hopes to get done, but I'm not holding my breath. Immigration reform is scheduled to be up early in the new session, but as we all know it's an issue that splits the majority party. Then Social Security 'reform'. Not holding my breath there either, but with AARP in opposition we should expect that they'll get tarred with the same brush that Kerry did. Seniors/AARP will be part of the axis of evil this year. Watch for it.

Bush faces busy January calendar

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?