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Make a Difference

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:10 AM

With just a week to go in the 2004 Election, here is one of your last chances to make a real difference. Let your blogging audience know (and encourage them to spread the word) that the missing munitions in Iraq were noted as missing by NBC News on the day that the coalition forces arrived at the site eighteen months ago. As such, there was nothing the Bush administration could have done to protect the site… it had already been emptied out.

Moreover, Kerry should be required to answer why he is attacking the President on something that only happened, the way he talked about it, in the New York Times/CBS News universe. Finally, the world should hear about Drudge Report findings that indicate CBS News appears to have been planning to use 60 Minutes this Sunday to reveal this twisted piece of news in hopes of damaging the President's campaign. If anyone doubts CBS's bias, this should make it even clearer exactly where they stand.

Just Exactly What Happened

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:50 AM

Laugh, it is funny: Did you miss the debates? Then check out this very serious column that sums the whole thing up in just a few short paragraphs.

The American Conservative Endorses… Bush. Pat Buchanan writes an interesting piece which I will — for the record — note that I do not entirely agree with. On the issues of today, I am generally well into the Right, but the far Right that waxes about “neo-cons” and the evils of supporting our ally Israel just makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Then again, they endorse… Kerry. Scott McConnell, editor of the American Conservative, decided that the President will damage the conservative movement for decades by giving it a bad name. Moreover, he manages to compare the President to the trio of Leon Trotsky, Leonid Brezhnev and Czar Nicholas II in the same article. Overall, it has the uncomfortable bits that existed in Buchanan's endorsement of the president and none of the more sensible parts of the same. Given that both candidates supported the war in Iraq, Kerry most certainly does not deserve the vote as some kind of punishment against Bush for the war. Scott even drinks the radical left's Kool-Aid that suggests that the U.S. manufactured the evidence against Iraq, despite the existing of overwhelming corroboration of that evidence from the intelligence agencies of the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and others. President Vladmir Putin even warned out president about a believed threat to U.S. soil from Iraq.

Why not endorse everyone? That's what the American Conservative does in other articles. Follow either link I gave above to find a box that provides links to other editorials that manage to endorse every major third party candidate to go along with Bush and Kerry. Who says you can't have it every way?

My Domestic Spending Agenda

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:28 AM

NASA — many people on both sides of the fence simply do not understand the critical importance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I guess liberals find it too close to the military and conservatives can't necessarily justify it as a necessary part of the military. Yet, in my opinion, NASA is one of the most important parts of the Federal government. Let's face it — yes, NASA is inefficient, bloated and has been thoroughly shamed by the St. Louis's own Ansari X-Prize, but private companies will never be able to accomplish what NASA can under proper direction.

Take Mars, for example. To reach Mars will require new technologies and massive projects beyond anything the agency has ever done before. While Scaled Composites was able to reach space for a relatively meager sum, they were doing so with the benefit of thousands of technologies that were driven ahead through NASA's early, innovative days. The technology to reach Mars with humans does not exist yet, meaning that only an entity with the funding power of the world's lone superpower can likely reach the goal of the first interplanetary human mission.

NASA has probably done more to advance technology than any other government agency and our world is better for it. President Bush's 2030 goal for a Mars mission deserves respect as a plan to re-ignite our imaginations and our common goals so that the stodgy modern NASA can again become the lean, mean organization that can revolutionize technology for us. We should take technologies that come out of NASA and pass them out through an effective technology licensing program that would encourage private sector companies to use and improve what the government created. This would pay back the costs of R&D and drive the push into the final frontier to new heights.

United States Postal Service — Many conservatives I know loathe a public entity dedicated to mail delivery. The privatization call has come for a long time and sounds good on the surface. The idea of privatization of USPS, in my opinion, is a flawed and dangerous plan. USPS does not turn a profit, like it would be required to do if it were in the private sector, but personally I care much more about seeing my mail come and go without a hitch than if USPS is bringing in cash (so long as it is not a complete money black hole). UPS, FedEx, DHL and others can and do accomplish amazing logistical service feats with a profit for a reason: it costs more to use them.

Take, for example, a 6 oz envelope to Paraguay. The cheapest way to get it there using any of the major private sector delivery companies will set you back nearly fifty bucks. For just seven bucks, I can upgrade to service that should get that letter there in less than a week via USPS. Now, I hear you screaming over there: “raise the rates! raise the rates!” Hold on a second. Is not the main goal here to facilitate communication? If USPS charged the same rate as UPS, it would be very impractical to send that envelope even though I would hate not to send it. Could it perhaps be that it is worth a few of my tax dollars each year to facilitate affordable, fast, reliable postal service for the dozens of letters, bills, rebates, CD's and other things I mail out? E-mail must become far more secure, reliable and just plain better before I would consider cutting loose our core way of distributing documents and packages.

There are lots of issues that come up if USPS was privatized. Daily deliveries to rural areas would become likely targets of cuts. Even first class letters would likely skyrocket in price to achieve pricing parity with UPS, et. al. I betcha the amount of money you would spend sending out your bills each month would go up enough that the meager tax savings would soon seem less than attractive.

I would add that I believe with a relatively meager investment in more efficient delivery solutions, including some of those used by UPS and FedEx, we could dramatically improve USPS's performance. We ought to look into solutions such as outsourcing certain extra deliveries to other carriers and promoting and improving high tech solutions (which USPS already offers) such as e-mail to mail gateways.

Amtrak — This is, by far, the most controversial of my three pet government projects. I believe it is in this nation's interest to not only keep Amtrak going, but also to start a one-time revitalization program that would upgrade the tracks across the nation to support bullet train capabilities. Amtrak, in its current state, could not survive as a private company. If Amtrak shutdown, the rails that made this country great would grow rusty and disappear into the murky fog of the past.

In a time of heightened security, we should have a strong transportation infrastructure beyond just air traffic. A healthy, revitalized Amtrak could, I believe, turn a profit eventually and would allow us to have a redundant high-speed transportation network. Think about the days after 9/11 when we were forced to shut down air traffic — such a high speed train system would have allowed for far more efficient traveling. We have no reason to believe 9/11 was the last time this could happen, and next time we could be ready (and that is just one of the many advantages to having more than one long distance mass transit system).

Moreover, if we implemented the improved Amtrak using electric trains, we would insure that no matter what future fuel technology eventually allows us to eliminate dependence on the Middle East, we would be able to convert it to work with trains. I don't think you can necessarily say that about our existing planes.

Each of these agencies needs major reform, I agree. I do not agree however that they should be ended or privatized. In the long run, I think everyone would benefit from improving these agencies and it is reasonable to expect that a serious upfront investment could yield a rosy financial situation for these agencies in the future.

A Sign of the Times?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:02 AM

Last night, I finally put out my Bush-Cheney yard sign, and this morning, it was gone. Considering that the area has lots of Bush signs it was rather disheartening to see that mine had been stolen and a nearby Kerry-Edwards sign had been left untouched.

Undeterred, I went back to the Bush-Cheney HQ and got a replacement. Oddly enough, shortly after putting up the new sign, I went to answer the door and my neighbor was there asking why I had a Bush-Cheney sign laying in front of the door. When it was returned is beyond me — I had not been out that door today, but apparently the sign thief brought back the sign. I'm curious if it was a guilty conscience or a desire to avoid getting caught and charged with theft and trespassing, but at least the sign is back in my care.

The new sign's frame remains up tonight, but the actual sign is in the great indoors until tomorrow morning when I will put it back up again. The local campaign volunteer suggested this measure as a good way to avoid having it damaged or stolen. Apparently a lot of Bush signs have been slashed and otherwise vandalized in the last few days (including one owned by a gentleman who was ahead of me in the line to pickup a sign). It seems to be another case of the vitriolic Bush haters that have been raiding Bush-Cheney offices and stealing signs across the country.

I'm a Republican, or My Serious Look at Peroutka

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:49 PM
I. On Selection of Judges
When both John Kerry and the debate moderator challenged Mr. Bush to say if he is for or against Roe v. Wade, Mr. Bush was silent, saying only that he would have no litmus test for judges which means, of course, he would have no pro-life, anti-abortion litmus test. In other words, Mr. Bush is saying that the abortion issue is so unimportant that he would not, in any way, make it a qualification for any judges he would appoint.

I think most people know President Bush would likely select pro-life judges. What the president has always insisted on, though, is that he should not have a litmus test on judges. We should not re-legislate from the bench. If a perfectly impartial judge would find that nothing in the constitution bans abortion (I'd be surprised about that!), then the proper solution would be to pass legislation in Congress not to appoint judges who are biased and legislate from the bench — even if that legislating from the bench going “our way.”

This is important. Judges should not rule based on their personal opinions, but on the constitution. President Bush's one qualification for judges is that they be strict constructionists. If we are confident that the constitution is on our side, then a strict constructionist would support the pro-life cause. The key is that he should support the cause because of his strict interpretation of the constitution, not because he reinterprets the constitution as a partisan just like the liberal activist judges.

II. On Free Trade
Peroutka advocates the dangerous policy of withdrawing from the WTO and NAFTA (and, if you didn't guess, he does not support the Free Trade Zone of the Americas). Here's the problem with that: free trade is the only economically sensible position, in my estimation (backed up by most economists that I know of).

In the global market, it is necessary, for instance, that I can get computer components as affordably possible from Japan, Taiwan, etc. (Note, I do have problems with not restricting trade with China, but I'm talking as a whole here.) Moreover, free trade works both ways: if countries can freely export to us, we can freely export to them. Placing tariffs and other restrictions on imports from countries with normalized relations just causes problems: take, for instance, the recent retaliatory tariff war between the U.S. and the E.U. that hurt Florida produce growers.

Isolationism is not an option.

Moreover, even though keeping jobs in the U.S. is a noble cause, first you are going to have to show me the American workers who want those jobs. The country seems to be no longer interested in manufacturing jobs, so if you try to stop imports, what do you do? You cause a government induced shortage. We should instead let the invisible hand of the market guide itself. Here's where I'll tip my hand towards libertarianism. We ought to keep the government out of trade as much as possible by making trade as free as possible.

III. On Civil Rights and the Defunct Confederacy
I'm of the mindset that completely equal rights between those of different skin colors is part of the inalienable right to freedom given to us by our Creator. That does not mean I support affirmative action and other reverse discrimination policies, instead, I think the government should just stay out of the issue as much as possible (albeit, I'd keep equal opportunity requirements that prohibit racist policies by employers, etc.). In other words, I support the “colorblind” policies advocated by the Republican Party.

So far I have not found any direct remarks by Mr. Peroutka on the issue, but having a Confederate Flag on a link to “Southerners for Peroutka,” which itself links to a page with a Confederate Flag on a capitol building speaks volumes. Delving into that (apparently) official site then takes one to a set of books on topics such as “Why Jefferson Davis was Right.” Is Peroutka running for president of the Union or the Confederacy? Moreover, the “We Have a Dream” captioned picture of the capitol with a confederate flag seems to strongly indicate a backlash against Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I Have a Dream Speech,” based on the allusion made by the quote juxtaposed with the picture.

Is this the kind of stuff we would want in a president of the United States?

Christian Science Monitor Presidential Quiz
Take it here. Found on Reverend Mike's House of Hash.

Debate #3

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:21 AM

Well, I was out tonight so I listened to part of the debate on the radio and then watched all of it (courtesy of DishPlayer DVR) as soon as I got home. Using both forms of media, I felt that President Bush was clearly in the lead with both his answers — which were strong — and the clear feeling that came through of President Bush's conviction and warmth. In fact, I think the President magnified the excellent qualities he showed people in the second debate in this third debate. Unlike Sen. Kerry's “I have a plan” statements, the President laid out a smart, sensible plan to every issue he was asked about tonight.

I must say I'm disappointed, if CNN/Gallop/USA Today snap poll is correct, that people said Kerry won 52-39. I just cannot imagine this. Kerry dodged so many issues that President Bush hit head on.

In particular, I'd note that Kerry continues to dodge where he is going to get two new army divisions and his view of the draft. I am increasingly becoming convinced that a vote for Sen. Kerry (or any other candidate besides Bush — at least in swing states where it really matters — since that would encourage a Kerry win) is a vote to reinstate a draft. This is something that is not being covered enough, but it is Democrats that have recently been trying to start the draft back up. It is the Democrats that have, after sponsoring bills in the House and the Senate to reinstate the draft, who have been trying to tack the idea of the draft on the President — completely unreasonably and completely false.

The president, on the other hand, offers a common sense plan to bring troops back to the U.S. from Europe and parts of Korea where they are not needed as much, so that we can maintain an all volunteer army (the best kind, especially in these tough times when we need a smart, willing army). This is the way to win the war on terror and to make America safer.

We need four more years of the strong leadership of our President. I fear four years of John Kerry.

Considering Stem Cells

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:05 AM

Note: I'm sorry about the political focus on my blog at the moment. If you're not into these kinds of posts, please don't leave, you only have to endure this for 21 more days — unless we have “Florida Reloaded.”

With Christopher Reeve's (“Superman”) death, stem cell research has taken an even more prominent roll in the coming election. The opportunist in Sen. Edwards came out today as he capitalized on the said death to emphasize why voters should vote for Kerry-Edwards instead of Bush-Cheney.

I have not seen, to date, a single example of embryonic stem cells appearing to offer any promising abilities not available in stem cells from the umbilical cord or adult stem cells. The only difference here is that embryonic stem cells require the death of human life, however tiny, whereas the others do not. Edwards appeals to our desire to save people from horrible diseases much the same way a snake oil salesman might attempt to sell his miracle cure. We want to believe, and thus we will, even if there is no solid evidence in favor of the advertised powers.

Additionally, Edwards is taking advantage of the American love of celebrity. Frankly, I think if the senator got up on stage and said that a President Kerry would have sacrificed a few people — ones that have been born — to save Christopher Reeve, and in fact, doing so would have cured him, I suspect many people would have been for it.

The difficult point is the question of what I'd want if I was in this kind of position. If I lost most physical facilities through some tragic incident, would I not advocate these same things? That's a difficult question I can't answer for sure, although I would hope that I would remain faithful to my principles. Ultimately, we should stick to what we feel is right when we do not have a bias so that, at some later point, when we do have a bias for whatever reason, we still have a moral compass and not just a relativistic need to help ourselves.

Demonstrating Opportunity Cost Through Funnies

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:51 PM

A true classic.

President Match Quiz

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 9:34 PM

Kerry is down to far to even show up in this image, he's somewhere below Ralph Nader in comparison to me, hovering at about 18%.

You can take that quiz here (note: the site is kind of buggy at the moment, but if you register before answering the questions, the site will auto-fill your answers if you retake the quiz or want to try one of the other ones they have there).

What a GREAT Debate

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:07 AM

President Bush won this one hands down. I'll have to talk more about that tomorrow. It was great!

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