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Kerry Makes a Firm Indecision

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 3:05 PM
May 4, 2003: In First Dem Debate, Kerry Strongly Supported President’s Action In Iraq. KERRY: “George, I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the President made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him.” ABC News, Democrat Presidential Candidate Debate, Columbia, SC, 5/4/03
September 2, 2003 Kerry Later Claimed He Voted “To Threaten” Use Of Force In Iraq. “I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations.”

Sen. John Kerry, Remarks At Announcement Of Presidential Candidacy, Mount Pleasant, SC, 9/2/03


March 2003: “My opponent does have strong convictions. It's just that he doesn't hold them for very long.” George W. Bush

Thoughts on Bush's Economic Track Record

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:29 PM

The problem: Putting a price ceiling on a market doesn't work. Additionally, by limiting revenues that drug companies can make,  it will encourage less innovation and thus medical research could stagnate.

Tax Cuts
Before Bush was even became president, there was talk that the Bush tax cut would only benefit the wealthy. But it just isn't true. Everyone who pays taxes got a tax cut, some just got larger tax cuts. But, isn't a $200 tax cut still good? That's like half a week's pay for a lower middle class worker — not shabby by any means.

It all comes down to percentages. If you pay more taxes, there are more taxes that you may not have to pay any longer. There's no way someone can give me a million dollar tax cut, because I don't pay a million dollars. Does that mean I should say no one should get a million dollar tax cut? No.  Why should someone not get a tax cut simply because they make more than I do?

Imagine if the Bush tax cut said "everyone gets half a weeks wages/salary off their normal taxes owed." While the person I mentioned above might only get $200, a CEO might get $50,000. There is no way the former could ever get that much off because that is more than they make all year and certainly more than they pay in taxes. Yet, giving $1,000 or $2,000 off to the CEO wouldn't really be meaningful. So, tax cuts are almost always bound to be cases where the rich get a larger reduction, but that's only because taxes are based on what you make.

Personally I still advocate a flat tax system where everyone would pay the same rate across the board (except maybe the very lowest income tax payers). The thing is, not only do the rich pay more taxes if they were taxed at the same percentage rate, they actually are taxes at a higher rate making the tax burden higher than it should be.

Kerry, as David points out, talks about giving "average American" tax cuts and raising taxes on the richer Americans. The best system is to cut everyone's taxes, which is what the president has done. The economy is a big circle (getting bigger with globalization) — if you  allow those on top to keep more cash, they will invest in new businesses. If you  allow those on the bottom to keep more cash, they will buy more and also start businesses. The key is not to penalize anyone. If you penalize those who earn a lot for earning a lot, you lower the motivation to work hard and create the new businesses that provide for more jobs.

Price Inflation and Consumer Buying Power
Most of the universities in my area are charging little or nothing more than what they were in 2000. Some tuition fees are bound to rise as inflation occurs, but this is unavoidable. Here's the key idea, however: It is not the President's job, nor should it be the President's job, to regulate prices.

Why not prevent prices from going up? Because of what I mentioned earlier, a price ceiling doesn't work. It didn't work with oil in the 70's, it won't work with tuition now. If costs are going up (which they almost always will, again due to normal inflation), tuition must go up. Tuition might have gone up, but so have earnings. I know professor who teaches at the very same university he went to thirty years ago. At the time, his book cost just $10 for the class, but he was also only able to earn $1 an hour working. Today the book costs over $100 for his course, but college students can also get a job earning $10 or more an hour. For the most part, inflation moves everything up at a very similar rate (thus why a minimum wage will never accomplish much — when you raise that everything else goes up, thus never really increasing buying power, but that's another story…).

What we really should ask is how much buying power do we have now compared to four years ago before President Bush. The cost of living, according to reliable statistics, has been fairly stable for quite awhile. Sure, a pair of shoes that cost $19.99 in 1990 might go for $29.99 now — but you are also making more than you did in 1990.

Overall, our economy is very healthy and unemployment is at around 5.5%, the last I heard. This is a very good number to be at — you will never reach 0% unless you hire people to do nothing (like the Soviets did). There will always be unemployment as people look for new jobs, take of for a sabbatical or to spend time with family, etc. Maybe the economy isn't as good as it was in the 1990's, but I would point out that the recent decline started before President Bush gave up the title "Governor." Let me note that again, the recent decline started before President Bush gave up the title "Governor." The economic downturn occurred in 2000, while President Clinton was still in office.

What we have hear is a reverse of the effect of the 1990's. Presidents Reagen and Bush (the father) pursued various policies to strengthen the economy. In 1990 and 1991, there were some economic problems, but the economy was starting to improve by the time Bush lost. Thus we have a case that one Bush doesn't get credit for the economic improvements he did make and the other Bush gets blamed for economic problems he didn't make. But, I'm using the word "make" very loosely anyway, because the economic power of the president by himself is very dubious indeed.

Not So Victorious

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:28 AM

Well, my votes didn't go so well today. Mayor Tom Brown, who has been considered virtually invincible in the past, lost by over 10% of the vote. Two tax hikes passed, one for $.86 per $100 going to the Francis Howell School district (who has had money “disappear” — as accounting fraud and the like — in recent years and was claiming the hike was necessary to save extracirricular activities such as sports). FH School District really should learn how to manage the money it has before getting yet another tax hike.

Depressing. I'm especially disappointed to see our long-time mayor lose. The new guy (Shawn Brown, no relation to Tom Brown) made his big campaign issue the fact that the new mayor's salary increases by $3,000 a year, and thus Mayor Brown would have been paid $100,000 this year ($40,000 base + $3,000 for each of his twenty years of service as mayor). On the other hand the new Brown only gets the $40,000 for his first year. It is too bad, Mayor Brown has been good for the area.

In lighter news, here's the latest quiz (thanks go to Kevin):
Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

Really Late Political Punditry

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:38 AM

1. Lieberman: As I told Pressed, this is a guy I could almost vote for. I liked him in 2000 when he was running for veep, and I like him now. He has reasonable policies and presents them in a likable way. Concerning Iraq, I don't mind people who didn't support it, however, I do find Edwards and Kerry annoying for dropping support once we started — that isn't good. Lieberman supports the sanctity of marriage and the ousting of the USA PATRIOT ACT too. Unfortunately, the fact that he's pro-choice tarnishes an otherwise good choice.

2. Dean: I think he came out good tonight. He kept himself under control, presented the case that he'd “been there, done that” to all the things that the others talked about doing in the future, etc. His temper definitely would make him a dangerous president though, I'd guess. The “Think with my heart, not my head” quote looks bad, although I think I do understand what he was trying to say.

3. Edwards: Edwards seems energetic, excited, and optimistic. He's very electable, unfortunately, he's a standard liberal. Edwards did really bad with the Sanctity of Marriage act. I mean, this guy talked about what it “would do” as if it wasn't passed (and demonstrated zero knowledge of what it would do or is doing anyway).

4. Clark: Clark has a lot going for him – good credentials, good at talking and appearing on TV (good experience from CNN), etc. But, he doesn't seem to really be very good policy wise. He comes across as someone who just is a bit unprepared. He also appears confused on his opinion concerning the war – why did he write good things about it in the Telegraph if he was against it?

5. Sharpton: He may not know what he wants to do with Greenspan, but at least he added some humor to the debate. I enjoyed his comment to Dean, which in effect said he understood Dean's performance in Iowa. “If I had spent as much money as you did and came in third place, I'd still be hooting and hollering,” he told Dean. Sharpton appeared to be in another world, for the most part, not really usefully, at least, participating in the debate. Sharpton's other major problem was morality and family values. He suggested that the Democrats were actually the “moral” party and that the Republicans had stolen that item. The part that was hard to swallow was when Sharpton tried to suggest his pro-choice views were a strong component of this morality.

6. Kerry: He appears very arrogant every time I see him, including this time. He appears very wishy washy about his voting record on Iraq. He just doesn't have much to offer and I honestly am puzzled as to why people like him.

7. Kucinich: No offense to Rep. Kucinich, but he too appears to be somewhere else – maybe with Sharpton. His plans don't sound very reasonable, and his timetable for withdraw from Iraq is irresponsible to say the least. Let's just say I understand why this fellow isn't doing better than he is.

So that was my take on the Dems performance last Thursday. Lieberman is only slightly more problematic than Mr. Bush, whereas the others have significant issues.

Although, perhaps Howard “the Doctor” Dean/Jesse “the Body” Ventura ticket could be highly entertaining. Hey, rather than going to an undisclosed secure location, Jesse could actually go fight the terrorists for us. What do you think? Dean-Ventura '04, anyone?

Rep. Richard Gephardt

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:24 AM

No one would even begin to consider me sympathetic to Rep. Gephardt's campaign. I have been disappointed with his 90% (or so) absence from congress over the last year as well. But, I can't help but feel sorry for him now that his presidential bid is over. This morning's Post-Dispatch had a large picture, on the front page, of Gephardt trying to keep his composure during his speech yesterday — the photo reflect the same pain you could tell he felt listening to him yesterday.

I listened to the speech on the radio, but I could tell how hard it was on him even just listening. With the campaign over and a life of political ambitions coming to a close, a certain sad sincerity seemed to come from the veteran representative of the Missouri 3rd district. Yes, I disagree with him on most of the major issues, but he is still a fellow human being, and yesterday, he was no longer simply a person guarded behind the usual politispeak. He was Dick Gephardt, fellow American.

If only politics didn't require politicians, to be, well, politicians, and instead be more like Gephardt was yesterday, I'm certain that we would be better off. I'm not sorry to see Gephardt's politics go after this congress, but I am sad to see the potential of what might have been, as well as the sadness of seeing his aspirations crushed.

Thank-you for that sincerity, Mr. Gephardt — it did not go unnoticed.

The State of Our Union is 'Strong'

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:08 AM
  • State of the Union: Yes, it is strong. While President Bush was faced with a recession at the end of the tech bubble when he came in, he is building up a better, more reliable economy.
  • USA PATRIOT Act: This was the lowest moment in the speech, so I guess it was good he got it out early. I'm hoping the parts that are set to sunset in 2005 will be allowed to terminate. The PATRIOT Act is the worst thing the administration has done thus far.
  • International Diplomacy: President Bush wisely pointed out the difference between negotiations with Libya and Iraq. The president's firm, unchanging policies have lead to improvements in Libya. Mr. Bush also emphasized the need to bring democracy to the “greater Middle East,” emphasizing that everyone has the God given desire for freedom. He emphasized the need for free people, free speech, and (interesting emphasis here, is this another attempt to take an issue away from democrats?) free labor unions.

    “America is a nation with a mission and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman.” — President George W. Bush
  • Deficit and Budget: The president appears to be moving back to a strong, conservative budget with just a 4% growth this year. The president's budget would lead to a 50% reduction in the deficit in just 5 years. This is GREAT news. It's time to return to fiscal responsibility, and the president seems to be aiming for that goal.
  • Taxes: The president emphasized the need to end the death tax permanently, as well as the marriage tax. It's time that people are taxed once and taxed fairly. He, quite rightly, notes that congress failing to renew these tax cuts will really simply mean a tax hike. That's very true.
  • International Support: The president named the dozens of countries that have committed troops to the effort in Iraq. It is to the shame of the democrats that they keep talking about making it an international effort as thousands of international troops, monies and materials are assisting us. Let's not ignore our allies. More dittos to the president.
  • Empire Building: The president emphasized, as the included quote says, that we are not building an empire. The goal of the United States is to spread democracy, not to enlarge its holdings.
  • Education: “Jobs for the 21st Century” will help prepare people for the more complex jobs of today. The president also emphasized strengthening America's excellent network of community colleges.
  • Traditional Values: The president promoted traditional values in his speech as well. President Bush argued for increased funding of programs promoting abstinence, as well as insuring “activist judges” will not destroy the sanctity of Marriage. This shows the president is listening to the concerns of Americans.
  • Social Security: The president argued for the privatization of Social Security, giving people ownership of their retirement funds — to an extent. This is the way things should be!
  • Illegal Aliens: The president continued to promote his compromise plan that recognizes the difficulty of removing illegal aliens, while realizing full amnesty is not fair or right. While I wish this wasn't necessary, I think Jonah Goldberg is right when he asserts it is about the only practical solution at the moment.
  • Healthcare: Another touchy subject, but overall ok solutions. Medicare can be adjusted to whatever the needs of the individual are per the new Medicare bill the president was “proud” to sign. As I reflect on the bill more, I do think it this is again, a good compromise, if not perfect. The president stood firm on the seniors' right to choice as well. Association Health Plans were also emphasized to allow SMB organizations to be able to afford to provide healthcare. Mr. Bush also emphasized providing tax credits to help low income families pay for private insurance (good). Finally he made the much-needed comments on restricting frivolous lawsuits and the need NOT to go with a government healthcare program.

    “The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that his purposes are just and true.” — President George W. Bush
  • Athletes: They — like it or not — are young people's role models in this day and age. They should quit taking performance enhancing drugs, the president said. You're right, Mr. President.

    Overall, the President provided a good balance of offerings for everyone. He continued to follow his commitment to be a president for all Americans, not just the special interest groups that the Democrats so enjoy appealing to.

    If the president continues his determination to get done what he promises, we ought to have a great year this year. Go Dub-ya!

  • Iowa Voters Prefer Kerry, Edwards; Gephardt Considers Quitting

    By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:41 PM

    John Edwards (D-N.C.) a rising star of recent weeks nabbed a second place finish with 31% of the vote. National poll leader Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vermont) came in a surprising third at just 18% of the vote. However, perhaps the biggest shocker was Rep. Richard Gephardt's (D-Mo.) fourth place finish, giving him just 11% of the vote, according to

    Gephardt, a long time representative of St. Louis, Missouri, was expected to be one of two contenders (the other being Dean) in Iowa, a state he had won in his last presidential bid (1988).

    CNN reports that Gephardt's weak showing in what was generally considered “his territory” will lead to his announcing a Withdraw from the race.

    The no. 2 leader in the polls, Rt. Gen. Wesley Clark (D) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Con.) both made little or no showing in the caucuses, perhaps a reflection of the fact that both skipped campaigning in Iowa and concentrated on New Hampshire, where a primary contest will take place next Tuesday.

    Sen. Lieberman appears to be the most conservative of those running, offering a platform far less extreme than those of Gov. Dean and Rep. Kucinich (D-Oh).

    Information based on data provided by

    Dean: The Bible Scholar?

    By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:36 PM

    I saw this in the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday and couldn't help but chuckle (although fear also hit me when I realized there is a chance we might have to live with this guy being our president). Apparently Democratic front runner Howard Dean, who has been trying to talk a bit more about religion as he attempts to appeal to Bible-belt voters, was asked what his favorite New Testament book was.

    As he heads into what H.L. Mencken called the “Bible Belt,” the candidate moved to plug an apparent hole in his resume about an interest in religion. After hearing Dean's observation beginning “If you know much about the Bible - which I do …” a reporter asked about his favorite New Testament book. Dean named Job, adding, “But I don't like the way it ends … there's one book where there's a more optimistic ending, which we believe was tacked on later.” [link]

    So, it seems Dean's Bible is organized a bit different than everyone else's. Robert Novak, the conservative CNN commentator, explains what happened afterwards in his syndicated column for this week:

    Dean returned to reporters, confessing a slight error. When they persisted in asking his favorite part of the New Testament, he prudently answered: “Anything in the Gospels.” [link]

    While I always feel sorry for people making dumb mistakes, I can't help but see this as Dean trying to look Christian when he really could care less. For someone who has, as Novak reports, claimed to have read the Bible “from cover-to-cover” and also has also stated, as the Post-Dispatch reports, “If you know much about the Bible - which I do,” it is disturbing that Dean lists Job as his favorite New Testament book and then can't be any more specific than the Gospels when he is reminded that Job happened about 2,000 years too early for the New Testament.

    I guess it could have been worse — he could have mentioned his favorite New Testament books where the ones that followed Moses's life or something like that.

    Political Views (Part II)

    By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:22 PM

    Last night when I posted my Political Compass results I lightly speculated on why my score might have taken such a dramatic change. The more I think about it, the more I wonder exactly why that is. I really don't think I've changed my views enough to move me 1/4 of the way over on the scale! In fact, I really don't think I've changed my views much at all the more I think about it. I wonder if perhaps I was feeling cranky the night I first took it and picked tougher standards or something. ;-)

    I'm still not sure what to make of the scores at any rate. I'm certainly not politically much like Tony Blair — at least I didn't think I was. Nor am I what most people would consider a centrist. I guess what keeps me from the far right is that I am not totally laissez-faire in my views — I support antitrust actions (Microsoft should never have gotten away with everything it did, for instance). I also don't mind the government subsidizing certain useful things such as museums.

    But… I also supported those things last summer when I was 2 points more conservative according to the compass. Was it a fluke? Something else? Hmm. If anyone else has tried the compass multiple times, I'd be interested in knowing if you've noticed sizable fluctuations.

    Political Views

    By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:39 AM
    World's Shortest Political Quiz [Link]
    Your Personal Self-Government Score is 40%.
    Your Economic Self-Government Score is 60%.
    Political Compass [Link]
    Economic Left/Right: 2.75 Libertarian/Authoritarian: -0.05
    This makes me more libertarian than Gerhard Schroder and Tony Blair, but economically about the same.

    I think this has to do with my (slightly) lessening interest in economic versus social issues (never fear, I'm not turning liberal or anything awful like that! ;-)). So how about you?

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