Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for September, 2009

The D.C. Tea Party 9/12/2009 in Pictures

Posted by Warren Peterson on September 21, 2009

There are several web sites that display photos of and commentary on the mass demonstration in Washington D.C. on September 12th. Do you think that Barrack, Nancy and Harry paid attention? It was hard to miss. Check it out on Conservative Woodstock Rocks the Capital.


Posted in National Politics | Leave a Comment »

Obama, Racism and Hope

Posted by Warren Peterson on September 17, 2009

Rush Limbaugh, love him or hate him, predicted that electing Barrack Obama President would not improve but actually intensify racial politics in America. Sadly, white liberals like former President Jimmy Carter and girl columnist Maureen Dowd have proved him right by their public statements equating opposition to Obama’s policies as racist. Many in the African-American community agree. We should have seen it coming when the Obama primary election campaign accused Bill Clinton, once called the “first black president”, of racism because of several comments he made while supporting his wife’s bid for the Democratic nomination. Still we long for the day racism ends as a significant force in American life.

Two black senior citizen friends of mine, one a PhD educator and the other a Boeing retiree, may provide a starting point. Both grew up and were educated through college in the Deep South and suffered the outrageous indignities of segregation. The educator recalls coming to Seattle as an Army officer in the 1960s and not being able to find housing near his base due to unwritten “whites only” restrictions. My Boeing friend refuses “forever” to patronize Texaco because they were sued for racial discrimination at one of their gas stations. “Forever” even though Texaco paid a fine and apologized.

These men are so scarred by their experiences that nothing will ever be able to compensate them. Truman integrating the armed forces, Brown vs. the Board of Education, Eisenhower sending troops to Little Rock, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, affirmative action, electing a black president, none of this matters. To them, black people in American are permanent victims of slavery and racial discrimination and that has not changed. It explains virtually all of the problems of crime, fatherless homes, poor education and lack of economic progress in the black community.

The children of my friends are all well educated and successful. If they are not tainted by the bad old days like their fathers, if they are a little embarrassed by leaders of the race industry such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the more extreme black political leaders, then hopefully each new generation will see more and more the end of racism. Just as a dying yellow jacket can still sting, society must be on guard against discrimination but we do not need to parse every word searching for hidden racial epithets.

Other Clear Fog posts on the subject:

Obama Hope

Obama, End of American Racism

Posted in National Politics | 3 Comments »

Seattle Mayoral Candidates Debate

Posted by Warren Peterson on September 14, 2009

On September 10th, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce hosted a debate between the two candidates for Mayor of Seattle, Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn. There were about 375 people in attendance and it was streamed on the net and shown on the Seattle Channel but beyond that, I suspect very few voters took the opportunity to watch it. Fortunately, it is still on the web. The whole debate lasts one hour and seventeen minutes including much too long introductory comments by the host and the moderator, which you can skip with no loss. Click here to view the debate.

On a question about jobs, both candidates seemed to say jobs are created by business but Seattle government should provide a competitive advantage that both supports current business and attracts new companies. McGinn talked about a city that works by fostering affordable housing, great (mass) transportation, great schools and investing in the future (fiber optic cable). Mallahan wants to move Seattle forward by creating an effective transportation system, good quality of life (public safety), efficient and effective management so we’d have the funds to pursue Seattle’s “progressive values” of “social justice and environmental stewardship.” They both supported developer-community agreements prior to launching a project to avoid contentious disputes but both also hinted that they favored a requirement for developers to use union labor as part of such agreements. McGinn favored a city takeover of schools. Mallahan felt the city had enough to do without adding responsibility for the school system They spared over the tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct with McGinn calling it a $930 billion dollar “tax increase” with the city being responsible for the inevitable cost overrun. Mallahan called McGinn’s opposition to the tunnel “disingenuous” saying we have spent eight years coming to stakeholder agreement on the tunnel solution and we need to get started for safety reasons as well as transportation improvement.

If all I had to go on was this debate, I’d say be prepared for His Honor Michael McGinn. If Joe Mallahan wants the “His Honor” title, he needs to quickly hone and sharpen his talking points, clearly define his differences with McGinn and demonstrate he understands the issues in depth.

Posted in State & Local | Leave a Comment »

Start Over on Healthcare Reform

Posted by Warren Peterson on September 10, 2009

What Obama should have said in his 09-09-09 speech to the joint session of Congress was “I will send Congress a draft bill incorporating all the key elements of my healthcare reform plan including implementation details.” What he did was reiterate a collection of proposals from previous speeches on the subject leaving the details, to much laughter, for Congress.

He is playing a high-risk game staking his presidency and perhaps, in the 2010 elections, control of at least the House of Representative on passage of a reform bill. Should it fail, he can’t really blame the Republicans since the Democrats have clear majorities in both houses of Congress plus the White House. His safest bet would be appointment of a blue ribbon commission to prepare reform legislation with an up or down, no amendment vote of Congress.

What should a commission bill include? How about the following:

1. Funding for any reform or future revision must meet accounting standards, be actuarially sound and use appropriate criteria for forecasts of costs. That is, the sources of funding – private or government – must be transparent, reasonable and not add to the national debt.

2. To reduce the inevitable benefit creep that has caused solvency problems for Social Security and Medicare, require a super majority of Congress (perhaps two thirds) to add/delete/increase/decrease any healthcare benefit mandate.

3. Individuals, not the government or employers, should be responsible to pay for their own medical costs. They may do this by purchasing insurance directly or through associations and using tax deductions and personal funds depending on the amount and patient choice. Employers should pass on all or most of the health care cost savings as increased salary to employees.

4. Send medical bills to the patient who must review and forward within thirty days to the insurance provider who must pay the bill to the limit of the policy within sixty days. This provides a user audit and appreciation of the costs of care.

5. Standardize and simplify claim forms and bills. Attaching a bill to a one page basic information form should be the only requirement to submit a claim.

6. Require some level of co-pay for every use of the healthcare system to discourage over use and serve as a reminder that healthcare is not free.

7. Define healthcare expenses to include physical and mental primary care, specialists, hospitalization and prescription drugs.

8. Make healthcare insurance mandatory with a minimum coverage at least for major medical including high cost care resulting from accidents, major surgery and chronic illness such as diabetes, MS and Parkinson’s. Basic preventative care such as breast, prostrate, colon and skin screening should also be required. The government can subsidize the cost for the truly indigent.

9. Use tax-free health savings accounts to pay for less expensive or not covered services such as dental, elective procedures and co-pays.

10. Coverage for alternative healthcare (Chiropractic, Naturopathic etc.) or more comprehensive allopathic medicine should be offered at extra cost.

11. Medical malpractice claims should be settled through arbitration with right of appeal to an appeals court. Awards will be limited to actual loss plus legal fees except that loser pays all legal costs.

12. Insurance companies may sell their policies in all states and territories. State insurance commissioners could recommend national standards.

Posted in National Politics | 2 Comments »

Tennessee Ford Update

Posted by Warren Peterson on September 9, 2009

Thanks to reader Tom B. for alerting me to this one.

Classical music trained turned country singer, Tennessee Ernie Ford, had a hit song in the mid 1950s called “Sixteen Tons”. It told the story of the hard life of a coal miner. An impersonator has updated the song to today substituting, by inference, taxpayer for coal miner. Enjoy.

Two Trillion Tons

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