- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2008


Sulking is not an option

If Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, were around today, he’d probably admonish conservatives disgruntled by the looming Republican nomination of Sen. John McCain: “There you go again” (“Romney out; McCain seeks unity,” Page 1, Friday). For while conservatives offer the only really new public-policy ideas that aren’t morally or intellectually bankrupt, they are, with a few notable exceptions, abysmal at securing the political offices required to implement those ideas. You’ll never clean up the sandbox if you refuse to get sandy.

Conservatives can still apply pressure on Mr. McCain in two crucial areas — vice-presidential selection and judicial selection. Republican vice-presidential selections have never led to a conservative successor. Even Mr. Reagan failed here in choosing the moderate elder George Bush, who earlier characterized as “voodoo economics” what turned out to be Mr. Reagan’s wildly successful conservative economic plans. When Mr. Bush succeeded to the presidency, he supported tax increases and consequently lost to Bill Clinton, who really put the “bully” back in the bully pulpit.

While it’s true that the younger President Bush chose a strong conservative as his vice president, Dick Cheney never intended to succeed his boss. And so today conservatives find themselves shut out of the nomination.

While it’s unrealistic to expect a 71-year old tiger like Mr. McCain to change his own political stripes, a deal to trade conservative support in the general election for a strong, conservative, electable successor is good, sound politicking. Slinking away and threatening to vote for a socialist is not.

And though political promises are oft broken, any conservative deal with Mr. McCain should also include a pledge by the candidate to appoint capable conservative judges and justices in the mold of Samuel A. Alito Jr. and John G. Roberts Jr.

The destiny of conservatives who consider sulking an appropriate political tool is relegation to the distant sidelines — and ultimately, extinction.


Oak Hill, Va.

Paul is best on the economy

Donald Lambro wrote an excellent column “Mixed tax signals” (Commentary, Thursday). He pointed out that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to raise taxes but she believes in keeping taxes low temporarily because of the threat of a weakening economy. She wants to raise the taxes later to pay for her pet projects. Mr. Lambro also pointed out that Sen. Barack Obama is no friend of tax cuts either and wants to use government to direct the economy. So, it is clear that you will never get conservative economic policies from the Democrats.

This brings us to a major dilemma. If we cannot get conservative economic policies from the Democrats, then we need to get them from the Republicans. Sen. John McCain, the GOP frontrunner, has not subscribed to economic conservatism either. He did not vote for the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, using class-warfare arguments.

It is time for Republicans who believe in free markets, lower taxes and limited government to vote for a real economic conservative. That is not Mr. McCain. Rep. Ron Paul is an economic conservative and has been voted the taxpayers’ best friend. Vote for him.



Warming hysteria

A couple of your commentators have recently expressed concern over what they correctly call Sen. John McCain’s global-warming hysteria (“Word war on warming,” Commentary, Feb. 4) and (“Conservatives and John McCain,” Editorial, Jan. 31). Mr. McCain and his ally Sen. Joe Lieberman are promoting a bill to permanently roll back emissions to year 2000 levels by 2010, a cut of at least 10 percent. Mr. McCain mistakenly believes that cap and trade will work for carbon dioxide because it worked for sulfur-dioxide emissions.

The three main gases emitted by power plants that burn fossil fuels are carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. The latter two are harmful to health and have been blamed for acid rain that damages forests. EPA’s acid-rain program since 1990 has caused power plants to reduce sulfur dioxide by 40 percent and nitrogen oxide by 50 percent.

An allowance (a cap) was established for each power utility. Those with modern plants, where pollution controls were already in place, had an excess allowance that they sold to older plants that were soon to be retired where the owner did not wish to install pollution controls. The loss in output due to the cap was immaterial. This was a case where cap and trade worked.

However, cap and trade for carbon dioxide is another matter. A 10 percent cap on a utility’s carbon emissions will cause a 10 percent reduction in its energy output. For the country as a whole this would cut electricity production by about 8 percent because most of our electricity comes from coal or natural gas.

Soon we would find there is no reserve capacity; brownouts would become frequent; energy cost would soar and the country would suffer enormous economic losses. Sadly, Mr. McCain, the likely Republican candidate, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible Democratic opponent, are both global-warming alarmists who will destroy our economy in the name of an unfounded theory.



EBay’s problems

While I commend Kara Rowland for writing the most balanced article I have seen to date on the upcoming changes to EBay, it merely scratches the surface and more in-depth investigative reporting is needed (“EBay sellers plot site boycott,” Business, Wednesday).

Why did she accept EBay’s assertion that the overhaul is supported by data, feedback and users? Anybody had a peek inside? Doesn’t sound like it.

As for that tired justification that the changes are “to improve the customer experience,” I say it is hogwash. The site’s motto is “Shop Victoriously.” It’s all about buyers. EBay fails to realize that sellers are its customers and need to be stroked as well.

EBay spokesman Usher Lieberman is cited as pointing to instances where sellers would “unfairly retaliate” against buyers who left negative feedback. Definition and examples, please. And what about buyers who do the same, for instance when a seller calls them on nonpayment. My queue is full of instances of that. Except that the company doesn’t care.

Not all listing fees are being slashed. Those selling low-end merchandise will actually experience an increase, which sends a message to customers to get lost.

EBay’s latest effort to force the use of Paypal is a sure sign that the company is experiencing difficulties. Interest was not posted to my Paypal Money Market account this month. E-mail inquires went unanswered.

The call for a boycott merely signals to others what those of us who use the site regularly already know: EBay has larger problems. Scamming, predatory and overextended shopoholic buyers are not adequately addressed by these latest changes, and in most respects, are encouraged. I am personally going beyond spending eight days offsite to permanently closing my account after almost nine years. There are plenty of other platforms online from which to transact business. I urge other sellers to do the same to send EBay a strong message — without sellers it is nothing — and I implore the press to dig deep into this troubled company and continue to keep it in the spotlight past the instant headline interest.



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