Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for June, 2008

Traders and Speculators

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 27, 2008

Oil traders (speculators) – BAD!
Big Oil Companies – REALLY BAD!

Agricultural traders (speculators) – BAD!
Big Corporate Farms – BAD TOO!

Carbon Cap & Trade traders (speculators) – GOOD!
Resulting Bigger Government – TOTALLY GOOD!

Consistent thinking – Missing
Democrats? – For sure.


Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

Shocking Revelation, Republicans Hire Republicans

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 26, 2008

There are two ways a President of the United States can continue his influence long after leaving office. The obvious one of course is the appointment of judges. Another, which gets little note until now, is the hiring of civil servants. The incoming administration generally replaces political appointees from the outgoing administration. But people hired under civil service may stay as long as they are breathing. This explains why a new cabinet secretary may have problems changing policies or reorganizing when the implementing staff has allegiance to the opposite political party or has been in place so long they are incapable of change..

The Seattle Times reported on June 25, 2008 that “Justice Department officials illegally used ‘political or ideological’ factors” when selecting new lawyers for elite training programs. It seems that conservative candidates were selected over “more qualified candidates with liberal-sounding resumes.” Later in the article we learn that “Inspector General Glenn Fine said he wasn’t able to prove that officials intentionally singled out applicants” but “investigators had found enough of a pattern to indicate that political or ideological affiliations were being weighted in 2002 and 2006.” It seems that writing an opinion piece objecting to the Patriot Act, opposing Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, working for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton or putting a derogatory cartoon about President Bush on My Space were all possible reasons for not being selected for an “elite recruiting” program in a Republican administration.

I understand the “spoils system” went out with “Old Hickory.” I know we want to encourage the best and brightest in public service. But then, we tossed such thinking aside when it came to favoring someone for a job based on race or gender so why not affirmative action for conservatives. Justice is supposed to be ideologically blind but you’d have to be truly blind not to recognize the clear differences between Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia. So I have sympathy for the political appointee manager, trying to be fair and impartial, who interviews some new graduate whom obviously holds contrary political views. After all, how many foxes should the farmer be expected to put in the hen house?

Posted in National Politics | 2 Comments »

Obama, End of American Racism?

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 17, 2008

There has been a spate of articles lately about prominent African-American Republicans considering voting for Obama. Colin Powell, talk show host Armstrong Williams and former Congressman and Fox News analyst J. C. Watts have all been quoted as saying they may vote for Obama. Their hope is Obama’s nomination and election will put the final nail in the coffin of American racism.

Perhaps they believe the benefit of this victory over racism trumps the damage Obama could do to the nation by his embrace of left wing views. Consider his naïve approach to military and foreign policy, his anti NAFTA position in the face of a global economy, his advocacy of 1960s style policies that would increase the size and scope of government and the appointment of liberal judges. At least for Republicans and conservatives, Obama’s worldview coupled with a Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid led House and Senate is the antithesis of what America needs in 2008 and beyond.

We can have it both ways. Honor the historical milestone of Obama’s nomination for President of the United States of America but defeat him on the issues. That truly would signify the end of American racism.

Posted in Presidential Politics | 2 Comments »

Mortgage Morality

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 16, 2008

Writings by two syndicated columnists caught my eye recently. The first was on Michelle Malkin’s blog. It covered the revelations regarding Congresswoman Laura Richardson from California. Apparently, she has blatantly walked away from mortgages on several homes and may be in the process of doing it again. There are also allegations that Washington Mutual has given her favorable treatment. The second was a column by David Brooks about the moral change in America with regard to wealth. We have moved from a frugal society that saved for the things we wanted to one hooked on credit cards and debt. The poor, who lack access to credit or investments, look to government sponsored gambling as the quick road to riches.

I remember when I moved to Seattle how hard it was to get a Visa card. I was a former Navy officer starting a well paying job with Boeing but I still had to wait weeks to get approved with a low limit at that. Now days, just about anyone can get several credit cards with ease. I remember after several years paying rent, I decided to buy a house. Even with a friend working at WAMU, they weren’t really interested in giving a single man, good job or not, a mortgage. I finally got a mortgage from Rainier Bank thanks to the Veterans Administration guarantying it. Live in the wrong neighborhood, be a woman or have marginal credit and mortgages were problematic. Not today, or at least not before the sub prime crisis. Zero down adjustable rate loans and ever-increasing home values lured millions of people into buying more house than they could afford. Realtors, banks and mortgage companies wanted your business and competed fiercely to write loans. One could always sell at a profit or refinance if needed. Bursting bubble, what’s that?

The astronomical incomes of professional sports players, entertainers and CEOs have blurred the definition of wealth. Lowering of moral and ethical standards along with easy credit and expansion of the nanny state, which borrows with impunity, have all served to change America and not for the better. In face of this, we look for the quick fix; the candidate that will save us from our profligate ways but the truth is in the mirror.

Posted in Other | 1 Comment »

Tim Russert – Blessings of Life, Blessings of Death

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 16, 2008

Blessings of Life

· Over the years, Tim Russert gained the respect of his friends, colleagues and the listening
public, something vastly more important to him than the fame and wealth he also enjoyed.
· He wrote the inspiring story of his father, Big Russ.
· He saw his beloved son graduate from Boston College.
· The last days of his life were spent with his wife and son in Italy on vacation.

Blessings of Death

· He died at his desk doing the job he loved.
· His death was quick. He did not linger in pain or suffer the indignity and frustration of lost
· He went out on top, at the pinnacle of a remarkable career.
· A devout Roman Catholic Christian, he knew his Savior. Surely, Jesus prepared a place for
Tim Russert.

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

Airlines Deal with the Oil Crisis

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 14, 2008

Fuel costs really have the airlines in a bind. To cut costs, they have proposed numerous changes. Flying slower, reducing fuel loads, carrying less water and installing lighter seats are measures already implemented. None of these changes directly affect airline customers but there are others that do. Routes and number of flights have been cut. Use frequent flyer points, cancel or change an itinerary, check an overweight bag, order a Coke and expect to pay. For the most part, these are minor annoyances. People deal with rising gas prices every day and they know the airlines are affected too. But a recent fee imposed by United and American has pushed folks over the edge. These airlines, no doubt soon to be followed by others, are going to charge $15 for the first checked bag. On a round trip, that is equivalent to a $30 fair increase. Worse, to avoid the fee, people will carry on more suitcases, cramming the overhead bins with the excess going under seats. And you thought legroom was a problem now. Class envy will increase because business and first class passengers are exempt. Add this to the security hassles and people will not fly. Conduct business meetings, see the new grandchild, they can be done on the Internet. Vacations can be closer to home. Amtrak, the Grey Dog or even driving starts to look attractive. Why don’t the airlines simply impose a fuel surcharge? They can make a reasonable case for the need and people will see it as necessary. A surcharge is simple, transparent and less likely to tic off customers. Of course, if fuel costs go down so will the fuel surcharge. Those other fees, however, would probably remain. Clever little devils, those airlines, aren’t they.

Posted in Transportation | Leave a Comment »

We Need an Energy Policy Now!

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 9, 2008

News flash for Congress, people are mad as hell. Sure, it’s an election year and both political parties are jockeying for competitive advantage. Yeah, the conventional wisdom is that nothing will get done until 2009 when a new President and Congress are in place. But we have a full-fledged energy crisis that will soon tank the economy if not addressed quickly. You, our Senators and Representatives, can do something about it now if you just put the nation first, address the problem with a little common sense and stop political posturing for once.

Stop blaming Bush, Carter, Clinton, OPEC, the oil companies, speculators and break out your Economics 101 book. There’s a chapter in there about supply and demand. There is also a discussion of futures markets, or that might be in Econ 200, but in either case you would learn that the intersection of the supply and demand curves set the price and the futures traders try to forecast those curves and set a price accordingly. In the case of oil, they forecast demand, especially from the major consumers like China, India, Europe and the United States, and supply from the major producers worldwide. Today, there is enough supply to meet demand but in the futures market, weather, political unrest, pumping and refining capacity, currency exchange rates, all affect the supply side of price determination. Government policy affects both supply and demand. You have the power to influence several of these factors by setting an energy policy that tells the world we are serious about protecting our economy by lowering energy costs.

Put your ideological mantras on hold and write legislation that clearly sets forth an energy policy we intend to implement ASAP. The policy should:

1. Recognize we will not be able to replace oil in the near future and therefore we must increase supply by exploiting our own resources. If the Chinese can drill off the coast of Cuba, ninety miles from Florida, surely we can drill off our own coasts and develop our oil shale and remove obstacles to building new refineries.

2. Admit that wind and solar fall far short of replacing carbon based electrical generation. Encourage development of a standard nuclear power plant and begin building them. It the French can generate most of their electricity with nuclear, we certainly can also.

3. Provide tax and other incentives to develop alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuels for transportation. Hydrogen, bio fuel, battery technology, combustion engine advancements are all areas with potential to replace or reduce usage of oil.

4. Forget cap and trade carbon markets, they are too difficult to establish, monitor and control. Instead use a transparent carbon tax, offset by lowering other taxes, to encourage conservation and innovation.

5. Control spending and balance the budget. This one action would strengthen the dollar and lower oil prices because oil prices are set in dollars. So a stronger dollar means fewer would be needed to buy a barrel of oil.

This policy does not have to be a five hundred-page bill designed to scratch everyone’s itch. It should be just a few pages that include a straightforward statement of policy and maybe, if you are really brave, a process whereby blue ribbon commissions provide specific implementing legislation and you get to vote yea or nay, amendmentable only by a two-thirds majority vote. Regardless, we don’t have time to wait. Get busy or get out!

Posted in National Politics | Leave a Comment »

Can Rossi Win?

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 9, 2008

I went to the Washington State Republican Convention a Dino Rossi supporter but a doubter on electibility. Yes, he has the sympathy vote from the “stolen election” of 2004. And he has solid support among Republicans, but in a Blue state. Worse, he faces a rematch with an incumbent, female governor who so far has managed to avoid any major scandal and she has, with the help of the Democrat controlled Legislature, paid off her base support with record spending of our tax dollars. Add in the prospect of a dismal year for Republicans nationally up and down the ticket and Dino would seem to face an up hill battle.

It took a twenty-minute speech by Rossi to change my mind. Rossi spoke clearly and succinctly about the politics, the campaign, and the issues in 2008. Never once did he bemoan the election fraud in King County in 2004. He merely pointed out that everyone knows 129 people who, had they voted, would have changed the outcome. He noted that the polls show the race a dead heat, within the margin or error, and that Christine Gregoire’s support is under fifty percent, a sure sign of trouble for an incumbent. Another encouraging sign is fund raising and volunteers are running well ahead of the campaign at the same point four years ago plus many of the contributors and volunteers are new. But it was the issues that most piqued my interest. There are some that are scandalous. Spending that has blown through the surplus and is forecasted to cause a major shortfall for the next Governor to face, transportation policy in disarray, three thousand violent felons given early release, failed child protection services and foster care, ballooning state government all speak to the need for change in the occupant of the Governor’s Mansion.

Rossi calmly but forcefully covered the issues and anyone hearing him could not help but be impressed. If every voter could hear him, he’d win in a landslide. The question is, how to give every voter that opportunity?

Posted in State & Local | Leave a Comment »

Carbon Cap and Trade Credits

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 3, 2008

The U.S. Senate is debating the Carbon Cap and Trade bill sponsored by Senators Lieberman and Warner. It is not expected to pass and will be vetoed if it does but the very fact that it is being seriously considered should be of concern. Global warming is happening and it is possible that greenhouse gasses contribute to it although the matter is far from scientifically settled. George Will, syndicated columnist with the Washington Post, published a column on the Lieberman-Warner bill in which he argued against a government imposed cap and trade system but for a straight forward, transparent carbon tax. Another interesting discussion promoting the free market instead of cap and trade to control greenhouse gases can be found at the Washington Policy Center web site.

Hillary Clinton attempted to impose a national health care plan in the early years of her husband’s administration. Negative public reaction was a key factor in the 1994 take over of the House of Representatives by Republicans after forty years of Democrat control. Her plan affected about one seventh of the economy. Cap and trade would give the Federal goverment a tool to dominate and control virtually every aspect (100%) of our economy. Surely it deserves at least as much public scrutiny as HillaryCare received and maybe a similar political reversal for the Democrats.

Write your senators.

Posted in National Politics | Leave a Comment »

Carbon Credits Gone Wild

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 3, 2008

Al Gore and a host of politicians, mainly on the Left, want to impose a carbon cap and trade scheme on the American taxpayers. Under the plan, limits would be set on carbon usage and entities that exceed the limits would be forced to buy credits from those that are under the limits. It could be just the beginning. There are several, maybe endless, subsets to a carbon cap and trade market. Here are a couple of possibilities:

Child Carbon Cap (CCC) – Increasing population increases the carbon load on the environment. Every baby requires a lifetime of air (oxygen in, CO2 out) not to mention nourishment, clothing, housing and transportation all of which add CO2. Under the CCC, every couple that wanted a second child would have to buy a child carbon credit from a fertile couple that did not want more than one child. Of course Hollywood stars would be exempted as well as welfare mothers that need additional children to fatten thier public assistance checks. Failure to pay gets the offending couple a one way ticket to China.

Fat People Carbon Cap (FPCC) – Everyone knows that fat people have to breathe harder to move about and they eat too much thus pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere. With the FPCC, fat people would be required to buy fat people carbon credits from underweight people. The penalty for noncompliance would be a permanent ban from McDonald’s and the Old Country Buffet.

SUV Gas Cap (SUVGC) – No greater threat to the environment exists than the dreaded sports utility vehicle (SUV). Its carbon footprint can squash two Yugos in the time it takes to run a red light. Under the SUV Gas Cap, one would have to buy gas credits from hybrid owners. Sure some people need SUVs because of work or weather or they’re too fat for a Prius, but they’ll just have to pay for their polluting gas hogs.

I’m sure you can think of some other carbon caps. Set up a cap and trade market and one of them might even make you rich but the taxpayers poor.

(Thanks to Bob S. for suggesting this post.)

Posted in National Politics, Other | 2 Comments »