Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for May, 2008

Scott McClellan – So Much for Loyalty

Posted by Warren Peterson on May 28, 2008

Former Press Secretary Scott McClellan, has written an explosive memoir on his Bush White House days. Why now? He could have waited until Bush left office before making his controversial charges. Indeed, why make the accusations at all? Has he no loyality? I’ve heard several explanations.

Payback: He’s angry at being fired and replaced by talk show host (and journalist) Tony Snow.

Money: Releasing his book now, during a hot presidential race, will sell more books than waiting until Bush leaves office.

Hype: The publisher told him he needs shock and awe to market his book.

Acceptance: Liberal Washington hates George W. Bush. Attacking Bush gains him new friends among the Georgetown set.

Here’s another possible reason. Scott is a young man, barely forty, and he needs a career. TV journalism could offer him a well paying job but first he’d have to earn his Bush Basher stripes. Will his book do that? We’ll know if we see his “deer in the headlights” face as a regular on CNN or another left leaning channel.

Not FOX.


Posted in National Politics | 1 Comment »

Report on Public Campaign Financing Town Meeting

Posted by Warren Peterson on May 25, 2008

To no one’s surprise, the Town Meeting sponsored by King County Council Member Bob Ferguson was well attended by supporters of his proposal to use tax dollars to pay the campaign expenses of people running for King County Council. Notices of the meeting were probably mailed to anyone on Ferguson’s list comprised of his political supporters and anyone who has ever contacted him or his office. One attendee estimated that about 10 to 15 of the approximately 130 people at the meeting opposed the proposal. He said there was “joyful hooting and hollering” when any audience member testified in favor but stony silence or derision from “the Party of Tolerance” (Democrats) when the 4 people brave enough to speak rose in opposition. Ferguson and company admit they don’t know how to pay for public campaign financing but we all know who will pay if this scheme ever gets implemented. Watch for another tenth of a percent in sales tax, new taxes on you name it or increases in some existing fees. A letter or phone call to all the members of the King County Council would be a great way to let them know you think there are better uses of your tax dollars.

Contact your County Council Member:

Bob Ferguson (D)
District 1

Larry Gossett (D)
District 2

Kathy Lambert (R)
District 3

Larry Phillips (D)
District 4

Julia Patterson (D)
Council Chair, District 5

Jane Hague (R)
District 6

Pete von Reichbauer (R)
District 7

Dow Constantine (D)
Council Vice Chair, District 8

Reagan Dunn (R)
Council Vice Chair, District 9

Public Financing of Campaigns

Posted in Other, State & Local | 1 Comment »

Public Financing of Campaigns II

Posted by Warren Peterson on May 22, 2008

King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson held a town meeting last Monday on his proposal for public financing of campaigns. I was out of town but searched the Seattle Times and P.I. for a report on the event only to come up empty. Not to worry though, a full article is on the King County web site under King County News. There I learned 130 people attended and heard councilmembers Ferguson and Dow Constantine along with former Councilmember Lois North and other “experts” laud the idea. Apparently, no one at the meeting voiced any opposition or at least none was mentioned in the article. If you where there, I’d appreciate hearing your comments. Somehow, I just don’t think all 130 attendees were swooning over spending tax dollars to fund campaigns for public office.

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Clinton & Obama – On to Denver!

Posted by Warren Peterson on May 12, 2008

Rush Limbaugh has been urging Republicans to cross over and vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. The goal of his “Operation Chaos” is to keep the Democratic infighting going right through their Denver convention in late August. This would give John McCain time to unify Republicans and build his campaign. That is why Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean and the Obama fawning media want Clinton to show the white flag and surrender to Obama. Let’s say, “Throw in the towel.” since she’s been waving the white race flag for months.

Right now, it is possible Clinton will stay in the hunt even after the caucus/primary phase of the Democratic nominating process ends in June. The battle will then shift to the super delegates and, where the party rules allow, converting pledged caucus/primary delegates. Since this would be a back room, one-on-one effort, Clinton and Obama would be able to switch from running against each other in primaries and double team McCain. True, as a former candidate, Hillary could still attack McCain but except for vice presidential speculation, she’d be just another Democratic has-been voice. With the nomination in doubt, media coverage of Clinton and Obama would continue to McCain’s disadvantage, an unintended consequence of “Operation Chaos.”

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Public Financing of Campaigns

Posted by Warren Peterson on May 11, 2008

They are after your tax dollars again. Proposals for public campaign financing are being floated in Seattle and King County. The latest comes from King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson for a “pilot program” to use tax dollars to fund King County Council campaigns. Pilot programs have a way of becoming permanent line items in budgets. Considering that King County is forecasting a $70 million dollar budget shortfall, shouldn’t council members be looking for ways to reduce spending not increase it? But if you are a liberal Democrat, budget cuts are unthinkable, spending increases are not.

Taxpayer campaign financing is not a new idea. It has been proposed before as a means of reducing the influence of money and special interests. Contribution limits and public disclosure laws have successfully addressed this issue, not to mention voter pamphlets, ratings by the Municipal League and other groups and newspaper coverage of candidates. Proponents also claim underrepresented communities (read women, sexual and racial minorities) have a better chance to compete if the taxpayers are forced to pay for their campaigns for public office. Looking across the State of Washington from the governor to the legislature to King County and Seattle’s elected officials, diversity doesn’t seem to be a critical problem.

Not enough people are attracted to run for office, especially against incumbents, so “new ideas are kept out of the political process”, so say supporters of public financing. I suggest there are a myriad of opportunities to present “new ideas” that don’t cost any money. Testify before government bodies, letters to the editor, talk radio, the Internet, community groups to name a few. More likely, people don’t run because they see the abuse elected officials take and the frustration of trying to get anything done. Can you say Alaska Way Viaduct?

Personally, I’m not interested in some candidate using my tax dollars to run for office just to promote his or her special interest or pet peeve. Nor do I support government sponsored candidate affirmative action. I do want candidates who demonstrate their commitment and a broad base of support by raising their own campaign funds under existing limitations. Seeing who contributes (data is on line) gives me a better idea of where the candidates stand on issues important to me. With public financing, this information is hidden. I don’t want to pay for people to run for office who lack the education, experience and knowledge to prepare and analyze a budget, understand social and economic effects of their decisions and have a broad perspective. In short, people who are qualified for the office they seek. We don’t always get that under the current system. Public financing of campaigns would make it worse.

Mr. Ferguson is holding an open meeting on public financing of campaigns Monday, May 19 at the Shoreline Conference Center, 18560 1st Ave NE in the City of Shoreline at 6pm (meeting starts at 6:30pm).

If no one shows up to object, open your wallet. The next candidate you see may be running on your tax dollars.

(Unfortunately, I will be out of town on May 19 but I am sending this article to the councilmember.)

Posted in State & Local | 3 Comments »

Schools Kiss Off $13.2M Grant

Posted by Warren Peterson on May 9, 2008

In a show of hubris that truly dazzles the mind, seven Washington State high schools, including West Seattle and Franklin in Seattle, rejected, turned down, said “nyet” to a $13,200,000 grant from the National Math and Science Initiative to “add and strengthen Advanced Placement courses in math and science.” The hang up was a provision of the grant that would pay AP teachers an extra $100 per student who passes the national Advance Placement test. The tests are optional but students who pass AP tests frequently qualify for college credit.

So what’s the problem? The education lobby is eternally complaining that teachers are under paid. But let’s not base pay on performance. Every teacher should be paid the same, right? Can you imagine actually paying a teacher a bonus based on how well students do on a test? Apparently, the merit pay issue was the deal breaker for the teacher’s union, the Washington Education Association. Any wonder it is difficult to attract and keep top flight math and science teachers in the profession. Oddly enough, such backward states as Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia had no problem with the grants.

In addition to the merit pay bugaboo, I suspect there is other below the surface objections found in the politically correct, left wing population of Washington. I heard several talk radio callers express concern about “teaching to the test.” I never understood this argument. If a test covers the basic things one should learn in a course, why wouldn’t a teacher be expected to teach them? We’re talking high school here. Then there’s the “AP is elitist “ crowd. It attracts too few minorities. It causes the student who can’t or doesn’t qualify for AP to feel badly. It’s an over used cliché, but “Give me a break!” The National Math and Science program has been extremely successful in Texas. The number of students, including minorities, taking and passing AP courses expanded greatly. Oh, but I forgot, George W. Bush is from Texas.

Teachers want to be, and should be, treated as respected professionals. Their union and the liberals who run it make that a steep mountain to climb.

Related post on teacher pay

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »