Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for January, 2008

Tax Rebate Deal – How to Spend It.

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 25, 2008

It’s a quandary. Should I donate half my special tax rebate to the Dino Rossi for Governor of Washington campaign and half to the Republican candidate for President or 100% to just one of them?

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Troops Out Now! clinton, edwards, obama

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 24, 2008

The following is taken from the transcript of the CNN South Carolina Democratic debate:

Question: In light of the new military and political progress on the ground there in Iraq, are you looking to end this war or win it?

Answer: CLINTON: I’m looking to bring our troops home, starting within 60 days of my becoming president, …

Answer: EDWARDS: And I have said in the first year that I am president; I will have all combat troops out of Iraq. All combat missions will end in Iraq, and there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq.

Answer: OBAMA: John, what I have said, and I’ve said repeatedly, is I want to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, but I want to make sure that we get all our combat troops out as quickly as we can safely. Now, the estimates are maybe that’s two brigades per month. At that pace it would be some time in 2009 that we had our combat troops out, depending on whether Bush follows through on his commitment to draw down from the surge.

Answer: CLINTON: What I have said is that I will move as quickly as possible. I hope to have nearly all out within a year. … there is a big problem … and that is President Bush is intent upon negotiating a long-term agreement with Iraq which would have permanent bases, permanent troop presence. … I have been strongly opposed to that. We should not be planning permanent bases and long-term troop commitments.

Oh really? We’ve had permanent bases in Germany, Italy and Japan since the end of World War II and South Korea since 1950. We are still in the Balkans (remember President Clinton saying we’d be out in a year; think that was around 1999). Should we leave Kuwait, close our bases in the Gulf States? Nonsense. The United States maintains bases beyond our borders wherever we have critical national interests. After investing so much of our blood and treasure in removing Saddam and setting Iraq on the path to democracy, however twisting it may be, should we just pack up, leave and hope for the best? Or should we pursue the goal of a democratic, free nation within the Islamic Arab region by providing security, training and stability through military bases in Iraq? Yes, it’s a Bush goal and that is a key reason why the Democratic candidates politically support withdrawal regardless of the consequences for Iraq, the Middle East or the Western alliances.

Ten years or more may pass before a judgment can be made regarding the success or failure of the Iraq War. While a double blind study is not feasible to see which is the better choice, Bush’s plan or the Democratic surrender option, it seems intuitively obvious that the greater risk lies with the Democrat’s approach.

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George Will Demolishes McCain

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 21, 2008

Like he did with Huckabee, conservative columnist George Will makes the case that John McCain is not presidential material, at least for Republicans. The January 20, 2008 Will column shows McCain to be a maverick in an ill fitting Republican suit.

It will be interesting to see, but I think predictable, whom will be the last man standing in George Will’s lineup. Since all five of the remaining Republican candidates (I exclude Ron Paul) are right on the War on Terror and the need for spending and tax reform, Will is eliminating Huckabee and McCain on other issues, Rudy should be next, Thompson will take himself out and Ron Paul – well let’s just say he has no chance. That leaves Mitt Romney who needs to polish his image by dropping the sometimes dishonest attack ads, convincingly explaining his change of position on issues like abortion and finding a way to look a lot less patrician.

Over all of this is the specter of Hillary as president. Republicans may have to swallow hard and support the candidate who can beat Hillary. The war, the economy, the Supreme Court depends on it. The winner take all Florida primary may help sort it all out, or it may not.

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McCain Revisited

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 16, 2008

In the past, I have discounted Senator John McCain as a presidential candidate, too old and too contrary by nature. New Hampshire and his rise in the national polls coupled with the shaky numbers for the most qualified candidate, on paper at least, Mitt Romney, give me pause to consider a second choice, John McCain. On the issues he is a mixed bag but for the two critical ones, The War on Terror and spending and taxes, he’s got it right. Yes, I know, he voted against the Bush tax cuts but he did so on a principled stand. Tax cuts must go hand in hand with spending reduction to avoid ballooning the national debt. That said he supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

He’s pro-life, ethical to a fault, refreshingly candid (straight talk is just that) and tough.

In the mixed category, he appears to buy into Al Gore’s global warming scare and opposes drilling for oil in ANWR and off our coasts. It is difficult to see how we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil, to which every candidate pays homage, and not exploit domestic reserves. Alternative energy sources are years away from supplanting enough foreign oil to significantly reduce the cost to our economy.

Of course the big one is immigration. Here he strongly supported the Bush/Kennedy oxymoron twins’ comprehensive immigration reform also known by many as the amnesty bill. To his credit, when the bill failed to pass, McCain said he got the message, secure the borders first. That still leaves the question of what to do about the estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the United States. McCain would deport the approximately 2 million with criminal records. Expect the ACLU to tie that effort up in the courts and the media to track down every “undocumented worker” and family sob story possible. So regardless of who is elected, the way ahead will not be easy. Id cards, employer penalties, guest worker programs, and deportations will all be needed but applied compassionately, fairly, wisely and legally.

There is a final plus for McCain, electability. Hillary is still the most likely to emerge from the racial mud of the Democratic contest. It is McCain that polls best against her. He would receive support from Republicans and do better than any other Republican candidate with independents and Hillary adverse Democrats.

If Romney’s two silvers and a gold, Giuliani’s “all in” bet on Florida, Thompson’s last stand in South Carolina or Huckabee’s “Evangelicals only” all come up short of the goal, put John in and cheer loudly!

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An Answer to the Evolution vs Design Debate

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 13, 2008

The below excerpt from “The Language of God” by Francis S. Collins was printed on the front page of the University Presbyterian Church January 13, 2008 Sunday Worship Bulletin. It comes about as close to resolving the evolution vs design debate as anything I’ve read.

It also became clear to me that science, despite its unquestioned powers in unraveling the mysteries of the natural world, would get me no further in resolving the question of God. If God exists, then He must be outside the natural world, and therefore the tools of science are not the right ones to learn about Him. Instead, as I was beginning to understand from looking into my own heart, the evidence of God’s existence would have to come from other directions, and the ultimate decision would be based on faith, not proof. Still beset by roiling uncertainties of what path I had started down, I had to admit that I had reached the threshold of accepting the possibility of a spiritual worldview, including the existence of God.

It seemed impossible either to go forward or to turn back. Years later, I encountered a sonnet by Sheldon Vanauken that precisely described my dilemma. Its concluding lines:

Between the probable and proved there yawns
A gap. Afraid to jump, we stand absurd,
Then see behind us sink the ground and, worse,
Our very standpoint crumbling. Desperate dawns
Our only hope: to leap into the Word
That opens up the shuttered universe.

“The Language of God”
Francis S. Collins

Click on the blue highlites to learn more.

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George Will Demolishes Edwards and Huckabee

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 7, 2008

George Will’s January 6, 2008 column is a must read for any Republican toying with the idea of supporting Gov. Mike Huckabee or any Democrat considering Senator John Edwards. Those already in one of these camps are probably lost causes but unless you are a true blue populist blinded by the rhetoric, there may be hope for you yet. Read his column. I’d love to get your comments.

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Hillary Bush?

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 7, 2008

In the Saturday Democratic debate on ABC TV, Hillary Clinton included at least seven disparaging remarks about President George W. Bush, far more than all her opponents combined. You’d think she was expecting to run against Bush rather than the 2008 Republican nominee. But on one question, she appeared to be channeling George Bush as her guide. The candidates were given a hypothetical scenario in which a nuclear weapon was detonated in an American city, a 30 to more than 50 percent chance according to the experts quoted. They were asked what would we do? Edwards and Obama put on their rhetorical never used uniforms and said they’d go after whoever was responsible. Richardson punted but Hillary stepped firmly into Bush’s shoes and said,

“But let me add that when you look at where we are, the stateless terrorist will operate from somewhere. I mean, part of our message has to be there is no safe haven. If we can demonstrate that the people responsible for planning the nuclear attack on our country may not themselves be in a government or associated with a state, but have a haven within one, then every state in the world must know we will retaliate against those states.

There cannot be safe havens for stateless terrorists who are in these networks plotting to have the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the smuggling into our country or elsewhere of the kind of suitcase device that could cause such havoc.

So I think we have to be very, very clear. You know, deterrence worked during the Cold War in large measure because the United States made it clear to the Soviet Union that there would be massive retaliation. We have to make it clear to those states that would give safe haven to stateless terrorist that would launch a nuclear attack against America that they would face very heavy retaliation.”

Her words are the one glimmer of hope for the nation should Hillary, God forbid, get elected President. The other three, surprisingly including the foreign policy experienced Richardson, would no doubt be immediately tested should they achieve the Oval Office. The Soviets judged John Kennedy weak and inexperienced and tested him with missiles in Cuba. The resulting crisis brought us as close to nuclear war as we have ever come. We cannot take that risk in 2008. The best way to avoid it, elect Giuliani, McCain or Romney?

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