Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for December, 2007

More Christmas Paranoia

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 27, 2007

If you haven’t seen Danny Westneat’s column in the Sunday, December 23, 2007 Seattle Times, you should. It tells the tale of the General Services Administration decision to remove poinsettias from the Seattle Federal Courthouse because some people complained that the red plants were symbols of a Christian holiday. Compounding the idiocy but winning the Port of Seattle Political Correctness Award, the GSA substituted Spring flowers including irises. After reading it, even my moderate, always sees two sides to every issue wife took a hard line, no two sides about it. She rushed to our den and came back with a book, “Follow the Year – A Family Celebration of Christian Holidays” by Mala Powers, illustrated by Frances Elizabeth Livens. In it is “The Legend of Thomas and the Iris.” You remember Doubting Thomas; the disciple not convinced that Jesus had risen on Easter morning. The legend says St. Thomas walked down a road and saw some dead plants but on his way back, he saw blooming iris, plants once dead were now alive, and so he began to believe it was so with Jesus too. So sorry Danny but the irises are out. Still, GSA might claim nonsectarian balance and leave the irises in December but display the poinsettias on March 23, 2008. That’s Easter but GSA can just call it Spring Break.


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Washington State Teacher Pay

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 20, 2007

One of the qualifiers for higher pay per the Washington State teacher salary schedule is additional college credit hours beyond a bachelor degree and/or a graduate degree(s). I know a third grade teacher with a PhD. Is a doctor’s degree really necessary for elementary school? No, but it does increase pay, but at what cost?

First, the teacher has to pay the tuition and dedicate the years to gain the salary driven additional education. Second, the state’s taxpayers have to pay for higher education institutions to provide the courses, professors, buildings and maintenance to serve the approximately 55,000 public school teachers in the state.

If the state provided money for teacher training appropriate for the job (ranging from summer workshops to graduate degrees for science teachers), we could improve teacher pay by saving them the cost of graduate school. By eliminating the fixed link between additional college credits and salary, perhaps we would open enough student slots at our existing four year schools to not need the hugely expensive proposed Everett branch of the University of Washington.

For more on teacher pay reform, see the Op Ed in the Seattle Times, “Reform the way we pay teachers”. It dares to challenge the education union’s time in grade/level of education approach to teacher salaries and is worth reading.

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

A Different Christmas Poem

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 19, 2007

A Soldier’s Christmas

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I start ed to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should b e at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,

“I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘ Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘ Nam ‘,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..

Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”
“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”

“But isn’t there something I can do, at the leas t,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

Michael Marks

PLEASE, Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our service me n and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let’s try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

LCDR Jeff Giles , SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum , Iraq

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Obama Wins Primaries, Clinton Wins the Nomination

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 17, 2007

The political pundits are all buzzing about a possible end to Hillary ’08. Even hubby Bubba has said it will “be a miracle” if she wins in Iowa. What is not being said, however, is that the primaries, unlike the general election, are not winner take all events. Hillary could come in third in Iowa and still capture a few convention delegates. Even more under the radar is the effect of “super delegates.” About 40 percent of Democratic convention delegates are not chosen in primaries or caucuses but are awarded to select party stalwarts such as Democratic elected officials and party leadership. These “super delegates” are assumed to be more interested in fielding a winning ticket than adhering to a strict ideology or swooning over some flash in the pan candidate. It is unlikely that they will support Obama due to his minimal experience not to mention an unspoken fear of nominating the first African-American presidential candidate. They may also consider Hillary too polarizing and look for a less controversial mainstream candidate. But as of now, she is garnering an impressive list of governors and congressional supporters. The aforementioned Bubba will be a super delegate and one can imagine him on the convention floor and in the cigar smoke filled rooms twisting arms and handing out promises to assure a Hillary nomination.

For a good discussion on the unique method the Democrats use to select delegates to their national conventions, read the article by Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer for MSNBC titled “What Role for Democratic Super Delegate.”

Meanwhile, don’t count Hillary out. Damn it.

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Fred Jarrett, Rodney Tom: Turncoats or Practical Politicians?

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 15, 2007

Republican Representative Fred Jarrett of Mercer Island has announced his intention to run for the State Senate – as a Democrat. Liberal Democrat Brian Weinstein, who is not seeking reelection, currently holds the 41st District Senate seat. Representative Jarrett joins State Senator Rodney Tom who made the same switch in 2006. Tom was a 48th District Republican State Representative when he ran for the State Senate as a Democrat. He ousted Senator Luke Esser who now serves as the State Republican Party Chair.

One questions whether these two servants of the people are turncoats, have truly settled ideologically on the Left or are political opportunists. Turncoat is perhaps too strong a term. It may apply better to people like U.S. Senator “Jumpin Jim” Jeffords of Vermont whose midterm abandonment of the Republicans turned control of the U.S. Senate over to the Democrats. At least Tom and Jarrett formally switch parties in an election so their constituents can weight in on the decision.

As for ideology, Jarrett and Tom are classic moderates. Take an issue like taxes and spending. They probably don’t support tax and spending increases as high as core Democrats do but then are surprised when they get both in spades.

Jarrett and Tom have seen the Eastside’s 41st and 48th Districts move from solid Republican, when they first were elected, to Democrat now. (See Seattle Times 12/14/2007) The Democrats hold both the House and Senate and will likely retain their majority in the 2008 elections. The majority party controls the entire legislative process, appoints all the committee chairs and has the majority of members on every committee. It is just practical politics for those not grounded in any particular political philosophy to desire membership in the majority.

If and when the political tides reverse, should the Republicans welcome back these prodigal sons? Sure, if it get the GOP the majority. It’s only practical politics.

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Congress Works?

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 13, 2007

I wasn’t sure whether to classify the below web address (video) as Humor or National Politics. Sometimes they seem the same.


Congress Works

Posted in Humor | Leave a Comment »

Season’s Greetings

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 12, 2007

Another bit of humor sent by a friend:

For My Democratic Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated
recognition of the of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes.
By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual
application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

For My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Posted in Humor | Leave a Comment »

Why Rudy Giuliani Will Not Be President

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 10, 2007

Mayor Giuliani may win the Republican nomination but he will not beat Hillary or Obama. One has only to read the transcript of last Sunday’s “Meet the Press” to understand why. Moderator Tim Russert grilled Rudy as only Russert can for the entire hour long show. It was but a foretaste of the General Election media coverage; a look at future editorial pages, TV debates and Clinton machine attacks. Five questions were on Iran/Iraq, over twenty on terrorism and al-Qaeda, about twenty-five covering the Mayor’s judgement and ethics, three concerning homosexuality, two on energy and one about balancing the budget. See a pattern here?

The media will offset Hillary’s shaky record on corruption with charges about Rudy’s ethics. If the race is against Obama, it will be “Mr. Clean” against that New York Italian Godfather. The Democrats will remind voters of the corruption scandals that sunk the GOP in 2006 and say Giuliani is more of the same. Rudy is a good offensive player but he will be forced to go on defense against Hillary or Barack. In either case, it won’t be pretty.

Posted in Presidential Politics | 1 Comment »

Mitt Romney’s “Faith in America” Speech

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 8, 2007

To see a video of Gov. Romney’s speech on religion’s place in America and specifically how his faith shapes his life, click on Faith in America. It lasts about 20 minutes.

Of course there is abundant less than complimentary comment from the secular left but for those of us who are not so arrogant as to believe in no higher power, the Governor made a strong case for shared basic values upon which he plans to govern if elected.

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Viet Nam Revisited – General Giap’s Memoirs

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 6, 2007

A friend sent me the following (It has been around for several years but still worth remembering.):

General Vo Nguyen Giap.
Giap’s memoirs… ( Gen. Giap was top General in the North Vietman Army )

General Giap has published his memoirs and confirmed what most Americans knew. The Vietnam war was not lost in Vietnam — it was lost at home. The exact same slippery slope, sponsored by the Democrats and the US media, is currently well underway. It exposes the enormous power of a biased media (the Democrats could never do it alone) to cut out the heart and will of the American public.

General Giap was a brilliant, highly respected leader of the North Vietnam
military. The following quote is from his memoirs currently found in the
Vietnam war memorial in Hanoi:

“What we still don’t understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media was definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!”

A truism worthy of note: Do not fear the enemy, for they can take only your life. Fear the media far more, for they will destroy your honour.

Do you think Ted Kennedy and his U.S. Senate seat mate from Massachusetts, John Kerry, have read the General’s comments? How about former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite?

Posted in National Politics | 4 Comments »