Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for April, 2008

April 29, 2008 Tax Freedom Day in Washington State

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 27, 2008

The average American worker’s tax burden is equal to all his income through April 23, 2008 which is three days sooner than 2007 thanks in part to the Bush tax cuts and rebates. Washington State is above average at April 29 ranking it as the fifth highest in the nation. Connecticut at May 8 takes the dubious top honor among the fifty states. Interestingly enough, seven of the top ten states also are among the twenty-two states reporting a budget crisis. Alabama ranked near the bottom with a tax freedom day of April 9, forty sixth in the nation, is included in the list of states facing a budget crisis.

For more detail see the Tax Foundation and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

Democrats Obama Dilemma

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 25, 2008

Before the Rev. Jeremiah Wright brouhaha, Barack Obama was not a black man. He was the new JFK. Unlike Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, he transcended race. He won an upset victory in mostly white Iowa. His mother was white but his father was born and raised in Kenya. Yet because he was not the product of over 200 years of African-American slavery, those who could trace their ancestry to the plantation did not embrace him.

Then came the exposé of Rev. Wright and Obama’s 20-year relationship with him and the Trinity church in Chicago. Snippets of Rev. Wright’s sermons denigrating America swamped talk radio and TV news and like a spicy meal, kept coming back. Wright’s Afro-centric theology became a campaign issue. The man who had been almost above criticism was put on the defensive. The man who had transcended race became the black candidate. He became an instant “brother” which gained him 80 to 90 percent African-American support but cost him his unifier image. It cost him significant white support. It opened the door to even the Clintons playing the race card. It took Barack off message and allowed Hillary to hit him with Bittergate, his relationship with former Weatherman terrorist William Ayers and challenge his experience and lofty rhetoric (“Where’s the beef?”). All these combined in Pennsylvania to shatter Obama’s messianic aura and raise questions about electability.

Democrats are now faced with a Hobson’s choice. Choose Hillary who has won the Electoral College vote rich states or Barack who leads in the popular vote. Pick Hillary, especially in a back room deal, and they lose the critical African-American vote and set back black/white race relations 50 years. Nominate Barack and the women’s vote could be lost. Either way, Democrats, with the best chance of capturing the White House since they ran a sitting Vice President, are poised to snatch defeat from a sure victory.

Democrats may just have to take the bitter pill option and accept a McCain win. This would give them four years to fix their nominating process. For Obama, he could use the time to gain experience, moderate his leftist views and build a powerhouse organization for 2012 when President McCain would be 76 years old.

It will be interesting. God bless America.

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

Hill and Bill and Barack and John Need Help from Microsoft

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 23, 2008

Microsoft, HELP! In this age of 24/7 TV news, talk shows, U Tube and bloggers, the poor presidential candidates are helpless. Nowadays, stuff they say at a private fundraiser in San Francisco or a speech in Texas can haunt them nationwide especially if “gate” can be tagged on a sound bite. Our whole time honored system of checks and lies is at risk. But we all know technology can solve any problem including this one. So get busy Microsoft, your nation calls.

To: Microsoft

For: Presidential Candidates

Subject: Request for Proposal

Provide software and hardware to meet the requirements set forth below:

1. Insert a ten second delay into public address systems, media microphones and all video and voice recording devices within range of any candidate whose lips are moving. Use this time and Google (or Yahoo if you buy it) to accomplish the below tasks.

2. Fact check current comments.

3. Compare current comments with prior comments on the same or similar subjects.

4. Using voice/video duplication technology or previous recordings, insert appropriate words/gestures to achieve historical and factual consistency.

5. Override consistency insert in specification #4 above if such words may tick off current audience, contain words for which your mother would wash out your mouth with soap or actually states the candidate’s true beliefs.

6. Insert static, fire alarm sound or loudly shouted words “Thank you very much. On to victory!” as appropriate.

Posted in Humor | Leave a Comment »

Taxes Under Bush and Clinton

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 21, 2008

 

Individual Income Taxes Under Presidents Clinton and Bush, 1999 Law and 2008 Law
For taxpayers who take the standard deduction and have no children
Taxpayer Tax under Clinton, 1999 tax law Tax under Bush, 2008 tax law
Single, income of 30,000 $3,157.50 $2,756.25
Single, income of 50,000 $7,262.50 $6,606.25
Married, income of $50,000 $5,085.00 $4,012.50
Married, income of $60,000 $6,585.00 $5,512.50
Single, income of $75,000 $14,262.50 $12,856.25
Married, income of $75,000 $9,426.50 $7,762.50
Single, income of $125,000* $29,378.50 $26,472.25
Married, income of $125,000* $23,426.50 $19,462.50
*This chart does not take into account the Alternative Minimum Tax

Source: http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/22958.html

The Bush tax cuts expire in 2010 so unless Congress changes hands between now and then or public pressure is so intense that even the Democrats have to take notice, get your check books out. Even a Republican President can’t stop the sunset, it’s automatic. Of course, Clinton and Obama at the recent debate promised not to raise taxes on those making less than $200 to $250 thousand a year then said they plan to raise the capital gains tax. Sell now.

Posted in National Politics | Leave a Comment »

Is Light Rail Too Heavy?

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 19, 2008

Before taxpayers opt for more light rail, before we compromise the I-90 floating bridge by adding trains, before we abandon the bus option, we all need to take a pause and read the Washington Policy Center’s study of the six existing light rail systems on the West coast. This is the summary but the full report is also on line in pdf. With a $15 billion transportation infrastructure bill (and that’s just Dino Rossi’s plan) coming down the road, we all need to think very carefully before we commit to more light rail than we are already saddled with. And what if the Gregoire/Sims/Nichols Axis has their way? Fifteen billion would be chump change. Guess who would be the chumps?

Posted in Transportation | Leave a Comment »

King County GOP Convention

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 14, 2008

The King County Republican Party’s convention last Saturday approved the party platform without any amendments or a single word of debate. How did they pull off this miracle? Simple, it is called an absence of a quorum. You see the rules of the convention provide that if a quorum is not present, the platform as proposed by the Platform Committee, including adopted amendments up to the loss of quorum, will be considered approved. Of course, if no one challenges the presence of a quorum, the convention could have theoretically continued as long as a single delegate remained. Someone did though and the convention adjourned just after lunch leaving time to enjoy the globally warm, Western Washington day.

There were several incensed delegates, especially among the die-hard Ron Paul supporters, who lost the opportunity to offer amendments and resolutions. It is not unusual in long lasting conventions to have someone move to adopt the balance of the platform “so we can just go home.” The convention quorum rule merely makes it easier sooner.

Quorum would not be an issue if those elected at the precinct caucuses would take their office of delegate seriously. The party by-laws define a quorum as twenty percent of elected delegates. There were over 4,200 of them in King County of which less than a 1,000 bothered to show up. Over a hundred left early and the attendance fell below the 855 delegate threshold.

The end result was not all bad. Republicans got a platform developed by representatives of each legislative district in King County that is reasonably concise, inclusive and reflective of the Republican Party base. Still, some method needs to be found to allow a final voice from the elected convention delegates. The party should consider a system requiring the platform to published earlier and only allowing amendments submitted in writing prior to the convention. This has its drawbacks also but at least it would offer more opportunity to the grass roots. A delegate presented an even better solution when he excoriated those delegates who left early and the over 3000 that did not attend. Essentially he said show up and do your duty! Amen to that.

Posted in Other | 4 Comments »

Dalai Lama on Iraq War

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 4, 2008

In September 2003, Scott Lindlaw of the Associated Press, reported

“The Dalai Lama said Wednesday that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan may have been justified to win a larger peace, but that is it too soon to judge whether the Iraq war was warranted. ‘I think history will tell,’ he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, just after he met with President Bush.”

It takes longer than five years, don’t you think, to assess the effect of a historical event as significant as the War on Terror and the battle for Iraq?

Posted in Other | 1 Comment »

High Cost of Gas, Our Fault?

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 4, 2008

Who’s to blame for the rapid rise in American gasoline prices? Worldwide demand for oil has affected the price but demand does not fully account for US gas price increases. Democrats in Congress point to the record profits of the oil companies and say they are the culprits. But the truth is Americans themselves play a major role. We demand more and more from our government – earmarks, health care, pristine environment, economic security, etc. – but our elected leaders lack the intestinal fortitude to ever say, “No, we can’t afford it.” And if they do, we punish them at the polls for not supporting our favorite issue or interest group.

The historical prices for crude oil to the US has risen almost exponentially not because there is any shortage of oil or OPEC shenanigans. It is high because oil is priced in US dollars and the value of the dollar vis-à-vis other world currencies has dropped dramatically. Part of the problem is the Federal Reserve actions (lowering interest rates and creating money) to manage growth, inflation and the banking crisis. Add to this, an increasingly out of balance budget and commensurate borrowing to fill the gap and foreign confidence in the dollar sinks. So to keep from losing purchasing power, the oil sellers raise the dollar price. Demand and speculation has driven up the price of oil in Euros and Dollars too but not nearly as much as in dollars. The difference is the weak dollar.

If pressure for spending is not trouble enough, our concern for the environment causes some tree huggers and economists, who view the automobile as Satan in sheet metal, to support increasing gas taxes to discourage driving. After all, Europe has had gas prices above our levels for years so why shouldn’t we? This same group, including out current crop of presidential candidates, refuse to consider drilling for oil in Alaska and off our shores. The huge US reserves in oil shale meet another list of environmental objections.

Unfortunately, we have an oil-based economy with no significant change in sight. With a presidential election year and the economic downturn, there is little chance of any meaningful action on gas prices by Congress. We will just have to suck it up for the balance of 2008. That’s not to say there is nothing we can do. We can support the presidential candidate committed to fiscal responsibility, and it’s not Hillary or Barack.

Posted in National Politics | 1 Comment »

Clear Fog in Prickly City

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 4, 2008

If you read my previous post on the nationally syndicated comic strip Prickly City, you’d see that Clear Fog raised a serious constitutional issue with the strip. The cartoonist, Scott Stantis, poking fun at the current presidential race, has a left leaning coyote running for president with a right of center girl as his vice-president. Unfortunately for their ticket, the constitution places restrictions on candidates from the same state. As a result, Scott revised his story line and you can see the finished product in the Seattle Times Comics for March 31 through April 3, 2008. Just under the lower right hand corner of the on-line strip for April 3 is a drop down menu for previous days.

Thanks to Scott Stantis for a very funny strip and responding so graciouly to a blogger from Seattle. Thanks go also to well known conservative Seattle attorney and constitutionalist, Richard Derham, for adding the finer points on the constitutional provisions. (see Dick’s comments on my original post).

Posted in Humor | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.