Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for July, 2010

Elite Schools Admission Bias

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 19, 2010

Thanks to F.C. for noting this article by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat on admission policies of the so-called elite universities. Apparently the “Gray Lady” does allow a little conservative light to enter the public debate.

Read it here: Admission policies of elite universities


Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

Mosque at Ground Zero

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 9, 2010

Pat Condell from the UK is known for his commentary on various topics. His latest on Islam, including comments on the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, says it like it is: Click Here

Posted in National Politics | 2 Comments »

Rename the Department of the Navy

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 5, 2010

There is a bill in Congress to rename the Department of the Navy to The Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Why stop there? Merge the departments of the Army and the Air Force into the Navy department too. After all, who needs the Army and Air Force when our Navy has its own ground pounders (Marines), Air Force (carriers) and ballistic missiles (submarines)? Think about how much money could be saved by eliminating two large bureaucracies.

Sure there would be some implementing costs, such as changing the Air Force song from “… nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force.” to “… nothing can stop a carrier air wing.” but they could be phased in as necessary. Besides, we could just adopt an existing version of the Navy Hymn that pays homage to “those in peril” on the land, in the air as well as those on the sea.

Go Navy!

Write your Congressman.

Posted in Military | 1 Comment »

The GOP’s Man of Steele

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 5, 2010

During a 1976 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, President Ford famously said the nations in the Eastern Block “…did not consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union…” In the hearts of the people his statement had a kernel of truth, but at the time Eastern Europe was still Communist and under the effective control of the Soviet Union. Ford’s gaffe was heavily criticized, made the butt of many jokes and contributed to his defeat.

Republican National chairman Michael Steele recently had a Jerry Ford moment when an open mike recorded him saying that the war in Afghanistan was Obama’s war of choice and history tells us it is not winnable. Of course, the war began under President Bush as retaliation for 9-11. Obama did claim during the 2008 campaign that Iraq was the wrong war and Afghanistan was the one we should fight. As with Ford, there may be an element of truth in Steele’s comment but given his job, he is not the one to say it.

The job of any national party chair is the three “R”s: Raise money. Rally the troops. Recruit good candidates. Skill requirements include the ability to herd cats, walk a tight rope without falling off too many times and stay on message. A party chair, above all, must not give the opposition openings for attack nor the ammunition to press their assault.

Chairman Steele is an impressive guy. A sharp dresser, good speaker, he knows how to work a room but there has been several openings and deliveries of ammunition to the Democrats under his watch. A dust up with Rush Limbaugh, revelations about speaking fees and a book allegedly criticizing fellow Republicans, lavish spending including strip joints, and his latest off the cuff comments on Afghanistan are among many controversies that have kept the political focus on him rather than the failures of the Democrats.

Mr. Steele has broken too many eggs. Sadly, because there is much to like about him, this Humpty Dumpty must go. The upcoming mid-term elections are far too important to tolerate any distractions especially from party leadership.

Cross posted on: Sound Politics

Posted in National Politics | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Katrina on Steriods

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 2, 2010

An opinion piece in the July 2, 2010 Wall Street Journal by Prof. Paul Rubin will set your head spinning. The next time you hear someone bash Bush for his response to Katrina, show them this: Why is the Gulf cleanup so slow?

On the Gulf oil spill disaster, Obama said he is looking for “for whose ass to kick”. Look around Mr. President. There appear to be enough in Washington, D.C. to keep your foot busy for weeks.

Posted in National Politics | 1 Comment »

Trojan Horse for Washington – I-1098 Income Tax

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 2, 2010

The last three income tax proposals were referendums that would have amended the state constitution to allow an income tax. They also included lowered sales, property, and Business and Occupation (B&O) taxes. All three went down to defeat by double-digit margins.

The latest run at a state income tax, I-1098, is an initiative. It promises to reduce state property and B&O taxes and raise about a billion new dollars for education and healthcare in exchange for an income tax on the wealthy. It still requires a vote of the people to enact but lacks any constitutional protections so in two years the Legislature could amend it anyway they want. Conventional wisdom says it will meet the same fate at the polls as previous attempts to impose an income tax in Washington. But these are different times. The economy is in a grand funk and more people than ever receive some benefit from government. At least one poll shows people evenly divided on the issue. Oregon voters recently approved an increase in that state’s income tax partly because it affected only the rich.

Should it pass, the pressure on the Legislature to lower the initiative’s tax threshold ($200,000 for singles, $400,000 for married) to ensnare more and more citizens will be irresistible especially when the Democrats are in power. And what is to prevent the Legislature from using the billion new dollars to supplant existing funding and going on their merry way spending just like they always have? Even if the billion dollars is additive to education and healthcare, will those dollars actually improve anything or will they just end up in bureaucracy and higher labor costs? If an income tax is such a panacea for cash strapped states, why are so many of them with sales, property and income tax in financial trouble? No income tax is a competitive advantage for Washington. Why give it up? Will an income tax drive wealthy people out of the state? The late Tom Stewart moved his company, Food Services of America, to Arizona in 2006 in part because Arizona has no inheritance tax. Will there be unintended consequences?

Taxes are a necessity but they need to be fair, reasonable and predictable so individuals and businesses can plan accordingly. They also need to be low in order to limit government expansion and leave more money for private investment and individual use. I’d consider a tax reform proposal if: 1. It was revenue neutral. 2. Income, sales and property tax rates and application bases were in the state constitution and linked so the Legislature could not play leapfrog i.e. raise income tax this year, then sales tax next year etc. 3. Any changes in rates or bases required voter approval. 4.The income tax was flat rate. 5. The B&O tax was banned.

I-1098 fails to meet any of these conditions.

Posted in State & Local | 4 Comments »