People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Maybe I'll Be a Libertarian After All

What happens to Republicans when they get elected to the senate? Is there even one member of the GOP that is not an abject coward?

It would seem not.
Sen. Voinovich Unsure of Bolton, Vote Postponed
NewsMax.com Wires

WASHINGTON -- Senators agreed to an unexpected delay Tuesday in voting on John Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations and said they intend to take a close look at fresh allegations against him.

The decision closed a rancorous session in which Republicans first sought to push Bolton through the Foreign Relations Committee and Democrats resisted. "We'll all have to trust each other," said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the committee chairman, in sealing the unanimous agreement.

Republicans hold a 10-8 majority on the panel, and Lugar had sounded confident early in the session that he had the votes to prevail.

But Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and George Voinovich of Ohio, both expressed reservations about a quick vote - as did a solid phalanx of Democrats. (link)
This is getting to be a broken record. Committe Republicans are stared down by a "solid phalanx of Democrats" and Chairman Lugar pleads for "trust" just as Chuck Hagel and George Voinovich cower in fear.

And a good man - John Bolton - is told to put his life on hold until further notice.


The Right Hand Doesn't Know ...

First Roanoke's smart people get together and come up with a plan to lure the effete and délicat to the city by building a new museum that will gain international fame.

Then they decide to drive them away by instituting punitive taxes on out-of-town visitors. Somebody wake me when this nightmare is over.
Roanoke may raise meals tax to 5 percent
By Todd Jackson, Roanoke Times

The city council will have a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 28 on the fourth floor of the Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building.

Roanoke's proposed 2005-06 budget relies on a tax increase to pay for the second of two renovations to the city's two high schools.

City Manager Darlene Burcham tried to temper any criticism of the proposed meals tax increase Monday, saying the Roanoke City Council and her administration knew years ago that a new funding stream would be needed to finance the estimated $44 million William Fleming High School project.

Burcham also said the meals tax was selected for an adjustment because it's discretionary and many people who pay the tax at Roanoke restaurants live outside the city [my emphasis]. (link)

Hotel occupancy taxes. Meal taxes. Highway tolls. That's what it comes down to, isn't it? Raise taxes on those who won't be around come election day.

If Roanoke city leaders continue to pursue this reckless course of action, visitors will, in fact, be coming from miles around to visit a museum - the city of Roanoke itself.

Sailors Reburied After 200 Years

This from Reuters:
Sailors Reburied 200 Years After Battle
By Amil Khan

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) - More than 200 years after the Battle of the Nile, a British naval officer of the time and some of his companions were reburied Monday in a military cemetery in the nearby Egyptian city of Alexandria.

To the sounds of a Egyptian Navy band and British buglers playing the last post, 35 British sailors and Royal Marines, carried five coffins to the new graves, 25 km (15 miles) from the island where they were hastily buried around 1800.

Archaeologist Paolo Gallo discovered their remains in shallow graves on an island in Abu Qir bay, east of Alexandria, where British Admiral Horatio Nelson destroyed Napoleon Bonaparte's French fleet in 1798, stranding his army in Egypt.

The old graves were in danger of being washed away as the sea eroded the island.

The remains include the body of Commander James Russell, who served with Nelson, and about 30 others assumed to be either British sailors, soldiers, a woman and some children.

British archaeologist and war historian Nick Slope told reporters the bodies had been wrapped in sailcloth for burial -- the usual practice at the time. There was one woman among them, probably the wife of one of the officers, he added.

Some of the deaths probably date from the Battle of the Nile in 1798, but some of the Britons could have died in 1801, when Britain landed an expeditionary force in the area. (link)

Virginia Tech Libertarian Seeks Your Attention

Jonathan McGlumphy, President of some organization calling itself Libertarians at Virginia Tech, has written a column for Collegiate Times. In it he does a magnificent job of outlining what the Libertarian political party stands for.
Column: Libertarians stress limited government, individual freedom
By Jonathan McGlumphy, President, Libertarians at Virginia Tech

The Libertarian Party is the largest alternative political party in the United States. We currently have over 550 office holders nationwide, and we’re adding to that every year. As a member of the national and campus group, the most important thing I can do is send citizens a clear message as to where our party stands. While there is not enough space to address every issue, the basics are simple enough. (
He goes on to lay out the libertarian belief system, which includes:
  • Individual liberty: what you do to your own body and your own property is nobody’s business so long as you do not directly harm others. We believe in individuals, not bureaucracies.
  • Personal responsibility: one cannot have liberty without responsibility. In exercising your liberties, you have the duty to make informed choices.
  • Limited government: this by far is the most important, for unless government is kept on a very tight leash, there will be no individual freedom.

He ends his column with this request:

I invite you to check out our website at www.libertarian.org.vt.edu to find out more.

Now, I must confess. I've always wanted to be a libertarian. What Mr. McGlumphy has written above coincides with my beliefs as they pertain to the relationship between government and the citizenry.

The problem is that, whenever I've gotten into a discussion with a libertarian, I've come away with the uncomfortable feeling that a libertarian is a closet anarchist. To them, it would seem, there is no clearly defined role for government in our lives beyong hunting down thieves and bringing fraud suspects to justice. And both of those topics have plenty of nuance.

War in Iraq? The national Libertarian party was in opposition. They apparently support a war on terror, but only if it is fought in the streets of Omaha.

Terri Schiavo being starved to death? I listened to a well-known nationally syndicated libertarian talk-radio host argue that the government should stay out of it; it was a family matter. What? Which family?

Drugs? None of the government's business. While I agree that marijuana is, by most accounts, a benign habit amongst the mentally unwashed, heroine is a mind-altering, thought process-altering drug that often brings about the inability of the addict to discern right from wrong, a phenomenon requiring, in my opinion, government intervention and oversight.

The drug debate is most illuminating when it comes to defining libertarians. They become so doctrinaire when arguing their political positions, their stances become bizarre, and irrelevant.

I still feel a kinship with this bunch. And encourage people to go to lp.org for more information on the Libertarian party. They seem to be a genial group of Americans who have our best interests at heart.

Which may be their downfall - as they are in competition with a couple of political parties the leadership of which seem to be only interested in strengthening themselves and their minions.

Advice For General Motors

I offer two pieces of advice for General Motors. The first comes from Ed Garsten, writing in the Detroit News.
Analysts: GM must shrink
Experts say carmaker has to cut more than 20,000 jobs and close four assembly plants.
By Ed Garsten / The Detroit News

General Motors Corp. must close plants, cut jobs, contain health care costs and eliminate at least one brand to stanch its bottom-line bleeding, some leading financial analysts say.

The automaker, which is expected to report steep first-quarter losses today, is under severe pressure to prove to investors that it can fix its operations. GM's market value has plunged 35 percent this year and its credit rating is hovering one notch above junk-bond status.

In a bearish report Friday, Deutsche Bank analysts Rod Lache and Michael Heifler said GM likely will be forced to undertake a major restructuring that could mean the closure of four assembly plants and the elimination of 20,000 to 30,000 jobs in North America. (link)

Here's my advice. Dump Saturn. The corporate leadership at GM have been told for years now that they are working with too many brands at a point in time when so many others are in the marketplace taking up market share.

GM's response to this good advice was to create another brand in 1981 - Saturn. Experts said at the time that GM could have taken its Chevrolet brand and adapted it to compete with Toyota (and its Camry). Instead GM had to launch a whole new car line, with accompanying bureaucracy.

Saturn may have captured good press - for about a year - but it is just another (unnecessarily costly) brand that General Motors needs to - because it can no longer afford not to - send it to the trash heap of history.

And bring back the Vega ...

In The Wall Street Journal? Say It Ain't So.

I found this header in the Wall Street Journal to be ... odd.

Big oil companies have gotten so big, so sophisticated and so beholden to shareholders [my emphasis] that their bargaining power in the scramble for future assets is being threatened by a host of smaller competitors. 4:51 a.m. (link requires subscription)
This is why I'm puzzled. How can a corporation be too beholden to stockholders? The owners.

My guess is the author meant to say the "big oil companies" are getting too short-sighted, concentrating on near-term returns on shareholder investment, rather than on long-term development of assets.

Or maybe the author has decided that Exxon should operate more like ... Enron. Greeaat idea.

O Canada

I should tell you, I've never been enthralled by the neighbor to our north. The people there are quirky, the lifestyle is as dull as mud, and with the exception of Toronto, the cities and towns are boring.

And it gets cold. Real cold, real often. It is said of Canada that it has two seasons; winter and August. I can vouch for it.

So if that weren't bad enough, now the Canadian government has been accused of being nothing more than a banana republic. This from David Frum writing in the New York Times:
Woe Canada

I LOVE Canada: It's so clean!" Visiting Americans may be about to lose their favorite cliché about their chilly neighbor. Over the past few weeks, a judicial inquiry in Montreal has heard charges that Canada's governing Liberal Party was running a system of extortion, embezzlement, kickbacks and graft as dirty as anything Americans might expect to find in your run-of-the-mill banana republic.

Just last week, for example, Canadians learned that one of the closest friends of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was paid more than $5 million for work that was never done and on the authority of invoices that were forged or faked. It is charged that this same friend then arranged for up to $1 million to be kicked back in campaign contributions to Mr. Chrétien's Liberal party.

Corruption charges have dogged the Chrétien Liberals for years. Mr. Chrétien left office in 2003 under suspicion that he had pressured a government-owned bank to lend money to businesses in which he held an interest. But until recently, nobody was able to prove anything worse than carelessness and waste. Now, though, the improper flood of money from the public treasury is being connected to a reciprocal flow of money to the Liberal Party and favored insiders, including Mr. Chrétien's brother.

And because Mr. Chrétien's successor, Paul Martin, failed to win a parliamentary majority in last year's federal election, Mr. Chrétien's old survival strategy of denial and delay no longer works. Together, the opposition Conservative and Bloc Québécois parties could force an election call at any time. Opinion polls suggest that if an election were held now, the Liberals would lose decisively.

The discrediting and defeat of Canada's Liberal government would constitute a grand event in Canadian history: after all, the Liberals have ruled Canada almost without challenge for the past 12 years and for almost 80 of the past 109 years. But the kickback scandal could reverberate outside Canada's borders too. (link)
As I was reading this, I was trying to think how this might affect me. The only impact this scandal might have down here in the real world is that we might have to close our borders to all the goofballs from Ontario who feel the need to drive in the left-hand lane on the interstate highway as they make their annual migration to Florida - that goes through Bland, Virginia - at 50 miles an hour!

Incidentally, I was amused by David Frum's characterization of the great frozen country to our north.
Many Americans see Canada as a kind of utopian alternative to the United
States: a North American democracy with socialized medicine, same-sex marriage,
empty prisons, strict gun laws and no troops in Iraq.
Please. Most of us in the reality-based world see Canada as a nation that has staggering tax rates, poor healthcare delivery, government intrusion into the lives of its citizenry on par with that of Zimbabwe, with a military in such poor shape and so inept that it couldn't put troops into Iraq because they forgot to build transport for them.

The only good thing about Canada is that it is a lure for all the whacked-out Americans (at the New York Times) who take up space down here where life is good.

O America!

It's About Time

Finally the White House comes to Tom Delay's rescue.
Rove Backs Up Delay,Calls Critics 'Desperate'

The White House yesterday stepped up its defense of embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, dispatching political strategist Karl Rove to deride Democratic attacks as "drivel."

"They're just desperate," Mr. Rove said of Democrats on CNN. "They're not offering ideas in the debate, they're not being constructive, and so some of their members are taking potshots at Tom DeLay."

The broadside came in response to Republican complaints that President Bush has been too tepid in his defense of Mr. DeLay, the Texas Republican who is being accused by Democrats and the press of ethical lapses.

"I'm looking forward to working with Tom," Mr. Bush told newspaper editors on Thursday. "He's been a very effective leader. We've gotten a lot done in the legislature, and I'm convinced we'll get more done in the legislature." (link)
This is a good start. Much more work on Tom Delay's behalf will be needed.