Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Transparency in Congress

Posted by Warren Peterson on March 25, 2014

I am not a supporter of Rand Paul for president but his short speech on the floor of the United States Senate should be required viewing for all voters regardless of political party. Congress could raise its dismal approval ratings just by eliminating the hypocrisy called out in this You Tube video.

To view the video, click: HERE

Posted in National Politics | Leave a Comment »

A Thousand Years of European Boarders

Posted by Warren Peterson on March 20, 2014

Thanks N.T.T. for posting the below video on Facebook.

If you ever wonder why Europe has over the last thousand years been at the center of two world wars and centuries of one political or military conflict after another the below link offers one reason. The current Russia/Ukraine crisis is just the latest iteration.

Click HERE to view the short video.

Posted in Military | 1 Comment »

Starbucks Annual Meeting – Seattle’s Premium Entertainment Event

Posted by Warren Peterson on March 20, 2014

Every year Starbucks shareholder meeting (Click HERE to view it) features inspiring individuals and performers along with company performance data and factoids. For instance, did you know that during the most recent holiday season, 1 in 8 adult Americans received a Starbucks gift card? Or that a small Seattle coffee company launched in 1992 with 125 stores now has over 20,000 stores and 200,000 partners (employees) worldwide? This year’s meeting, however, topped them all. Yes, there was a great band (unfortunately not on the video), free coffee, lattes and “fat pills” (pastries) and the usual goodie bag handed out at the meeting conclusion but this year Oprah was there. She and CEO Howard Schultz sat down in a stage set like Oprah’s TV show to talk about two topics, her love of Chai tea and her charities. On the former, she and Schultz announced Oprah’s Chai Tea would be available by Mother’s Day. She had come to Seattle earlier to personally help create the blend. Her tea is not a paid brand endorsement but Starbucks will donate to Oprah’s youth education charities with every tea sale. Not unexpected, the audience reaction was electric, bigger than the other announcement about a new Starbucks iphone app that will allow payment including tip and eventually preorders. Will pouring coffee directly out of your smart phone be next?

Starbucks bills itself as a capitalistic company with a social conscience. Not everyone agrees with all they do in support of the latter but there are few complaints about the former. Since 1992 the stock has risen from just over $7 to a high of about $82 in November 2013 (March 19, 2014 after close price was over $76). They have a goal of growing the company from its $57 billion market capitalization to $100 billion. With over 7.2 billion people on the planet susceptible to coffee addiction, the goal may be a little low.

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

A Must Read Book

Posted by Warren Peterson on March 14, 2014

Just finished Dr. Charles Krauthammer’s book, “Things That Matter -Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics” which has been on the New York Times best seller list for weeks. He graduated from McGill University in Canada and went on to Oxford but left to attend Harvard Medical School. Despite becoming a wheel chair bound quadriplegic from a diving accident, he obtained his MD degree in psychiatry and may well have made medicine his career but in a series of “pure blind luck” events he left medicine for writing, including a stint as a speech writer for Vice President Walter Mondale. Today, a liberal Democrat turned conservative, Dr. Krauthammer pens a weekly syndicated column for the Washington Post and appears frequently on Fox news. His book is a compilation of columns and essays he authored running from the eighties through 2013. Regardless of your own political leanings. you will find him entertaining, challenging and on solid intellectual ground. “Things That Matter’ is a must read.

Posted in National Politics | Leave a Comment »

Texas Holdem – Putin vs President ….

Posted by Warren Peterson on March 3, 2014

Obama: Putin has aces in the hole with two aces showing on the flop. As the last two cards are dealt, Obama, with nothing, bluffs. Putin takes the pot.

Reagan: Putin has kings in the hole with two kings and two aces showing. Reagan goes all in. Valdimir folds.

Know your opponent.

Posted in National Politics | Leave a Comment »

Let Someone Else Pay

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 28, 2014

In the Sunday, January 26, 2014 edition of the Seattle Times, we are treated to Pro and Con opinion pieces on a $15 minimum wage for Seattle. The Pro side saw the higher minimum as a means of closing the gap between low and high income earners; not an unexpected argument. (For one of the most cogent articles on income inequality see: David Brooks Column in the NY Times) It was on the Con side where a surprise occurred. The writer has a small business and makes the case that jumping Seattle’s minimum wage by over $5 an hour would add significantly to existing stresses on small business. One more increase on top of rising rents, utilities, employee benefits and completion from online merchants not to mention regulations (remember the City of Seattle imposed parking changes and mandated sick leave). The Con article noted that small businesses with less than 50 employees would be exempted, “But, if Fred Meyer, Home Depot and Starbucks are all paying $15 an hour, other businesses would be forced to follow suit if they want to compete for competent, capable employees.” Additionally, raising the minimum to $15 would force up wages for other workers. If all these costs cannot be offset by reducing labor or moving to a cheaper location, they would have to be passed on to customers. It would not be too long before these increased costs would flow into the general economy ($5 lattes anyone?) and the $15 minimum would be called too low. Off we’d go chasing our socialist tails once again.

Unfortunately, the Con plea veered hard left by proposing alternate ways of improving the lives of minimum wage earners by shifting taxes on small business to big corporations and wealthy people and implementing rent control. Every day there is another call for taxing the rich. As Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with Socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” As for rent control, do not some landlords qualify as owners of a small business? Also rent control has unintended consequences such as deferred maintenance, damping of new construction and landlords being forced to subsidize long time renters through below market rates.

Before we tinker with our economic system by mandating wage and rent levels not supported by the market, we should concentrate on policies that encourage investment, job creation and education that produces graduates with skills commensurate with higher pay. These are harder to do than voting for a $15 minimum wage and limiting rent but they do offer a greater possibility of a permanent solution.

Posted in State & Local | Leave a Comment »

A Proposal for Councilmember Sawant

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 24, 2014

Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is the new chair of the council’s Energy Committee. In a Seattle Times article on a proposed rate increase for Seattle City Light, Sawant outlined her agenda for the committee saying, “The committee in the coming months would examine issues including the situation of workers at City Light, executive salaries, and the relation between global financial markets and the rates people in Seattle pay.” While she’s at it, I’d like to propose another idea for consideration.It was offered to the council members in 2008 but none ever replied; all afraid to touch a Seattle sacred cow. However with socialist Sawant overseeing City Light maybe they should reconsider. In summary, I proposed selling Seattle City Light to a private company and using the proceeds to endow the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. A privately owned utility would still be regulated and rate controlled but not by Sawant and the rest of the council subject to reelection grandstanding. Regulation and rates would be set by the Washington State Utilities Commission staffed by energy professionals. Endowing the Parks Department would remove a large part of the taxpayer funded city budget freeing up funds for other uses; maybe even a tax cut.

In today’s fragile economy, there should be no sacred cows. Every idea deserves consideration.

Posted in State & Local | Leave a Comment »

2013 in review

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 31, 2013

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

Lobbyists, Legislators, Ethics and Free Meals

Posted by Warren Peterson on October 28, 2013

A few months ago an Associated Press article on legislators accepting free meals from lobbyists appeared in various Washington State media. Soon after another article was released covering a concerned citizen’s complaint filed with the Legislative Ethics Board against five Republican State Senators. They were the top five Senate recipients of the meals. No surprise since Republicans, thanks to two renegade Democrats, hold the majority in the Senate and therefore hold the most power over lobbyist interests. Also no surprise when a quick Google of the concerned citizen’s name revealed he is a liberal Democrat activist. Neither surprise was mentioned in the article.

I waited for a more balanced follow-up but when none was forthcoming, I filed a similar complaint against all Democrat Legislators from King County. The Legislative Ethics Board sent me a letter acknowledging my complaint and noting its similarity to the concerned citizen complaint. They are working on the complaints but no date was given for a ruling on the matter.

Personally, I hope the Board rejects both complaints. I do not believe the legislators violated the law or legislative ethics. I filed the complaint for three reasons: 1) to counter the biased reporting on the issue 2) to highlight the need for reform of disclosure requirements and 3) protest the selective misuse of disclosure reports for blatantly political purposes.

Most of the reform discussion centers on state law that attempts to define what value of meals or gifts a “state officer or state employee” may accept. Lobbyists are required to report meal costs for each legislator but how does a lobbyist report such expenditures on meals when several legislators are in attendance?

There are lobbyists for virtually every interest in the state and they perform a vital role in the legislative process. No legislator is well versed on every issue. Fellow legislators, constituents, personal research and, yes, lobbyists all are sources of information needed to make informed votes. Sometimes this information is given over a meal. Sometimes lobbyists use social events as an opportunity for legislators and lobbyists to get to know one another. Such activities need to be done in the light of public disclosure but the disclosure should be factual, clear and significant. The current system fails on all counts.
It needs reform. Design unambiguous reporting requirements; call out the partisan hit jobs for what they are, inject some common sense.

Warren Peterson
Former State Representative

Posted in State & Local | Leave a Comment »

Solving the ObamaCare Fiasco

Posted by Warren Peterson on October 23, 2013

Short of those living in a survivalist cave in Idaho, everyone is aware that the launch of ObamaCare has been less than sterling. The question is what to do about it?

Set the scene, a nationally televised Obama news conference to announce the President’s solution. The TV broadcast opens with the cameras peering down a long red-carpeted hallway in the White House. After a pause of anticipation, the far doors open and President Obama strides confidently toward the golden dais. After surveying the assembled press corps and checking the teleprompter, he starts his comments.

“Thank you. As you know the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has not gone as smoothly as I expected. No one is madder than me that a Canadian contractor with a record of failures screwed up my website. This combined with the 16 day Republican shutdown of the government negated the four years we had to develop a workable system.

In search of a solution to this crisis before next year’s election, I believe a bipartisan plan is needed so I have decided to go with a suggestion from a Republican blogger in Seattle. I am today appointing a person with a reputation as a problem solver, knowledgeable about providing health care and honest to a fault to head a Save My Health Care Commission. A man who needs no introduction, the savior of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics, the grandfather of ObamaCare, former Massachusetts’s governor, Mitt Romney.

Mitt’s task will be to conduct a performance audit and draft legislation to fix my health care plan. Congress will have to make a no amendments, up or down vote on the legislation. I want it on my desk by December 25, 2013 and I will sign it.

The beauty of this plan is if the Romney reforms work, I can take the credit. If they fail, I’ll blame the Republicans.

I’ll refer any questions to Governor Romney. Meanwhile, I have to go. Joe Biden and I have a tee time.”

President Obama turns off the teleprompter, steps off the golden dais and walks back down the red-carpeted hallway once again above the fray, leading from behind.

Posted in National Politics | 1 Comment »


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