Friday, May 29, 2009
It seems that the use of “reverse racist” is mired in a philosophy that systematically separates races and automatically defers to the Democrats’ talking points and language. Racism is often an accusation hurled at the right from the left. Whites have historically been pegged as racist (often because they were). However, it is seemingly un-PC to call a minority racist. It touches on some sort of sensitivity to use the language of victimhood for the supposed [historical] perpetrator. So instead, the right soft-toes around the Democrats’ feelings and coins a new term- “reverse racism”.
This is at best inane and worst outright harmful. Racism, to whomever it is directed at, should be labeled as such. By having two terms, the argument is still one of white vs. black- not one between discrimination and non-discrimination. It is foolish for America’s conservatives to give the Democrats free rein to structure the debate around skin color and claim that only one or two groups in America are truly victims. Rather, Republicans need to brand racism propagated against whites not as reverse racism, but simply as racism. It is the same beast.
This is essential to shifting the focus of the equality and discrimination debate in America from one of skin-color to one of tolerance. In this day and age, skin-color should not matter. The so-called Civil Rights movement should no longer be one of emancipation for blacks and other minorities, but one of eradication of race based thinking, regardless of the racial category of the victim. The emancipation movement for blacks has already succeeded. It is high time we recognize this. The Left is very reluctant to do so, as there are a milieu of special interests and politicians (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) whose existence is based on racial tensions. The Republicans only fuel this mode of thinking by acquiescing to Democrat standards of language use.
This issue has been widely prevalent in regards to Sotomayor’s appointment to the Supreme Court. While I would not go so far as to call her a racist, Judge Sotomayor’s decision in Ricci v. DeStefano is clearly racist and discriminatory (See my prior discussion here http://anewrepublican.blogspot.com/2009/05/what-race-is-your-fireman.html). She approved of a system that blatantly and unfairly signaled out (and failed to reward) individuals based on skin color. Republicans have been doing a great disservice by terming it reverse racism. It implies that Sotomayor’s decision does not have the same gravity as it would have if the races of the firemen involved were inverted. In fact, the Ricci decision is as heinous as if New Haven refused to promote any black firefighters simply because of their skin color.
It is time to take charge of the debate. Republicans have to move the focus from the partisan, racial agenda set by the Democratic Party to a new post-Civil Rights conversation. We have to appeal to the notions of equality and fairness. We have to seek to eradicate racism and raced-based thinking. We have to stop automatically terming any differences between blacks and whites as racism and focus on true discrimination- regardless of who it is targeted at. Defining the debate not as skin-color versus skin-color, but as discrimination versus non-discrimination will broaden the appeal of the Republican Party to minorities who previously bought the demonized racist image broadcast by the Democrats. Until we do that, the Republican Party will continue to suffer by playing the game under the Democrats’ rules
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
As GM heads towards a government deadline, it is scrambling to restructure and avoid bankruptcy. In the process, bondholders are getting the short end of the stick, being cast as the bad guys. The big winners are, of course, the unions which may receive, according to the latest plan up to 20% of the new GM. (See MSNBC report http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/
This is a most unfair solution for the failing auto giant. The United Auto Workers (UAW) and the bondholders share an equal claim to GM’s assets. However, our leftist, pro-union government is demonizing the bondholders and unfairly assisting the union. (See a great editorial by the average American bondholder in the Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/
If anything, the situation should be reversed. The UAW has way too much power and control in the auto industry. The worst possible solution is to give the unions even greater control over the failing industry. While not the sole cause of the auto industry’s failures, the unions have profoundly contributed to its current state. Unions, in general, contribute to rigidity in an industry. They prevent jobs from being phased out when no longer necessary. This ultimately undermines research and development and technological growth, causing unionized companies to lag behind those without unions. While it is impossible to know what GM would look like today without unions, it is clear that it would have had greater flexibility to change its business model, modes of production, and more. Instead, the stiffness of the system has forced GM and other auto companies to continue a model that should have been discarded long ago.
In non-unionized industries, companies are rewarded – or fail – based on their innovations and specialized superiority. Competition encourages them to reinvent and routinely redesign themselves. If they fall behind, everyone – management, workers, suppliers, retailers – lose out. However in the rigid system of the auto industry, as consumer demand shifts the auto companies are unable to appropriately shift the business. Workers cannot be let go and plants cannot be shut down. This prevents the company from developing new products and methods that could be more efficiently performed with workers or factories with different abilities. Instead, the company must continue an outdated business model and sell an inferior product.
And so for all their contribution to the downfall of the industry, the unions are being rewarded. Once again they are unjustly being a given a piece of the pie that they do not deserve. If our government wants to save the auto industry, it better think long and hard about the role of the union. The answer is not to reward those who made the system too inflexible to succeed, but to create a new, more competitive company that excludes the rigid structures and players that previously dominated. This approach may save the auto industry- giving the UAW undue ownership will not.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Once again North Korea has flouted international rules. This time it has conducted nuclear tests and launched short-range missiles. (See Fox News http://www.foxnews.com/story/
As has been discussed in this blog and elsewhere, North Korea’s rogue actions are unacceptable. The Obama administration pays lip service to this. However, it has thus far failed to send a convincing message to the North Koreans. Instead, North Korea receives a pleasant message that Washington will only talk and will not act decisively against belligerent actions. Kim Jong-Il and his cronies are responding to Obama’s rampant pacifism by testing how far they can go. These missile launches and nuclear tests are a gauge of America’s willingness to impede North Korean actions. So far the message is clear – North Korea can do what it wants.
The administration does much to weaken its position, by packaging condemnations of belligerent actions with the stated policy of appeasement and discussion only. This weak position is seen clearly in the President’s statement following the nuclear test (See the White House website http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_
The United States has to offer a decisive and firm response to these latest tests. It must be unequivocal that these behaviors are unacceptable. Kim Jong-Il must understand that North Korea will suffer severe punishments if it continues to test the world. This can be accomplished through open discussion of possible military action against the rogue state. As of now, it is imprudent to launch an attack against the country; however, laying the option on the table could go a long way towards emphasizing the gravity of failing to abide by international standards.
North Korea must see the folly of their ways. Strong language and threats of severe action must be made to deter further provocations. If strong statements from the UN are stymied by Chinese hesitation, the United States must stand up to North Korea alone (or with any willing participants). While a military attack is certainly a response that should be discussed, other less severe actions should be laid out- and acted upon immediately. Otherwise, Kim Jong-Il will know that he has freedom to do whatever he desires, with only the risk of a mild tongue lashing in response.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
This has left a small nub of the political spectrum that still considers themselves to be Republicans. This group of stalwart Republicans has now moved from being one wing of many in a broad based Republican Party, to a new core in a much narrower party. While the individuals in this group generally have not changed their conservative values, they now have become a larger voice within the party. As they grow in power, so does their rejection of the moderate wings of the Republican Party. As we are seeing, greater numbers of people are continuing to flee the Republican umbrella.
While I often agree with certain ideologies and policies proposed by the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs, these are not the public faces we want representing the Republican Party. These people should be strong members of the party, preaching to the choir, and rallying the base. They should do their work from the inside. Ann Coulter is never going to convince a liberal, or even a moderate, to vote Republican. While her ideas might often be sound, her delivery and presentation is one that pushes people away. Her methods are superb when rallying the people that agree with her, but ineffectual in forming a broad coalition under the Republican banner.
As the Republican leadership refuses to distance themselves from these individuals, we drive more of the moderate Republicans and independents across Obama’s line in the sand and into the hands of the Democrats. The Republican Party has to replicate exactly what Obama has done. We have to push the line back towards Obama, stealing the middle to support the conservative values that the Republican Party once stood for. Most of American does not support the intense liberalism of the left; however, they do not want to be associated with a party that is perceived to be narrow-minded, intolerant, and out-of touch. Unfortunately, that is where the Republican Party is headed these days.
It is unfortunate that when leading Republicans make this point, they are silenced, ridiculed, and outcast from the nub-Republican Party. Obviously, there are serious issues going on within the Republican Party. Any American can see that. We need to open discussions on how to best rebuild the big-tent Republicanism that existed under the likes of Reagan and Kemp. We have to stop shrinking the party, and begin to grow it. New voices of reason need to speak out and challenge the current voices of the party. While the hardcore Republicans talk in the language of Reagan and heap praise upon him, they have all-but failed the party that he helped create.
This is not a criticism of conservative ideals, or even a disparagement of specific wings of the Republican Party; but a call to grow the base, not shrink it. There are meaningful debates that happened within the party. Let’s keep those debates within the Republican Party, rather than between a nub-Republican Party and expanded Democrat Party. The path to electoral success is not through vitriolic small-mindedness, but through a broad appeal to the logical, conservative ideals held by most of America.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Netanyahu made three pertinent points. First, he expressed a desire to start negotiations immediately (he also mentioned that peace should be regional in nature). Second, he stated that Israel has no desire to govern the Palestinians. He wants them to govern themselves, albeit it without certain parties that would endanger Israel (such as Hamas). While this does not explicitly signify an acceptance of a two-state solution, it shows some recognition of the general concept. Third, the Palestinians need to recognize Israel as Jewish state.
This third point is an important one that is often overlooked. Netanyahu is highly criticized because he does not openly accept a two-state solution; however, the equivalent acceptance on the Palestinian side is even more difficult to discern. Why should the Israelis be held to a higher pre-negotiation standard than the Palestinians? This is particularly concerning because many of the Palestinian groups not only do not accept a two-state solution, but vehemently call for the complete destruction of Israel. How is a nation supposed to negotiate peace with such animosity on the other side?
Even if a two-state solution is the only way to peace, and even if Netanyahu firmly believes in a two-state solution, it is prudent for him to pull back. Over the years, Israel has slowly backed down on positions and received little in return. The rampant anti-Zionism prevalent throughout the world has forced Israel to prematurely give up what should only be given up at the negotiating table. This has been a dangerous pattern for Israel, as it leaves the small nation with a weak hand for final negotiations. It is particularly worrisome in light of the fact that the current US President has not demonstrated the overwhelming support that Israel has experienced with past presidents.
For this reason, Netanyahu is right to step back from making a two-state solution a pre-condition to negotiations. Israel must regain political chips to play in the negotiating game (similar arguments can be made for continued settlement activity). It must set the playing field to ensure that negotiations lead to a final, stable peace, rather than a stepping stone to its eventual destruction.
Netanyahu seems to be accomplishing this. His words were elegant. He did not come out with fire and brimstone, but spoke firmly from a strong position. He is willing to work with the Palestinians, but not be a push-over. He will surely be condemned throughout the world. However, he has shown that he will not fold in the face of Obama. For this he must be commended.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
So states a recent bi-partisan Congressional Commission report on the “strategic posture” of the United States. The report, which was presented to Congress a week ago, outlines a two-pronged approach for the U.S.’s nuclear policy: (1) continued deterrence and (2) arms control and nonproliferation. (See here for the report http://www.usip.org/strategic_posture/).
Throughout its discussion on nonproliferation, the Commission emphasized that we are at, or near, a dangerous tipping point. It stressed that without continued American and Russian support for nonproliferation we may reach a point where the spread of nuclear weaponry becomes uncontrollable and extremely dangerous.
Implicit in the report, is that a nuclear Iran would spawn a Middle Eastern arms race. Accordingly, some Middle Eastern nations are already in the process of mimicking Iran’s nuclear program. This will have disastrous effects on the already unstable region. The first, more conventional worry revolves around the creation of a new breed of regional nuclear powers. This will weaken America’s position in the region and create a higher stakes political game. It is easy to see how the Middle Eastern dynamic would substantially change with a number of the large states – perhaps Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq (not to mention the already nuclear Israel) – operating under a nuclear umbrella.
More importantly perhaps, is the risk that such a third-world nuclear arms race would be vastly unsecure. These governments run the risk of ‘losing’ weaponry that could find its way into the hands of non-state actors and terrorists. An increase in the number of countries with active nuclear programs greatly increases the probability that a nuclear warhead ends up in Al-Qaeda’s hands. Simply stated, aspiring entrants to the nuclear club do not have the same institutions and controls, or the stable populations (read Islamists) that the current nuclear powers have.
As most people are well aware of, the current stable system of nuclear deterrence and international cooperation is ill equipped to handle such non-state, nuclear powers.
Nonproliferation is necessary to avoid the inevitable struggles that would occur should non-state actors obtain nuclear weaponry. While the Commission report praises Obama for his actions regarding deterrence, it calls on the President to take further steps to set the nonproliferation agenda. “Good leadership,” it states “requires setting the example.” The report goes as far as to state that if Obama’s open-arms approach to Iran and North Korea “fail[s], we might then have reached a point where the nonproliferation regime is substantially if not fatally injured.”
This is a point that Republicans must seize on. While the Right has been consistent in its criticism of Obama’s foreign policy, these criticisms have to take on more of serious policy discussion, rather than the alarmism that is so often used. Obama is taking too much of risk by recognizing Iran’s and North Korea’s demands. The U.S., alongside Russia, must unequivocally state that the ‘nuclear club’ is closed to new members. If we fail to promote nonproliferation, we will move dangerously close to a complete collapse of the stable global nuclear system.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The Securities Exchange Commission defines a Ponzi scheme as a system where “money from new investors is used to pay off earlier investors until the whole scheme collapses.” (See http://www.sec.gov/answers/ponzi.htm). When FDR created Social Security its aim was to immediately help the needy. The plan was (and is) funded by the younger generation, who would theoretically be funded in their old age by their children. Just like a Ponzi scheme, this requires an ever expanding base of funders. As old age lengthens and populations grow the ‘return to the investor’ needed to be larger and larger. This requires a continuous input of new payers into the system.
This worked for a while, as the population expanded; but as everyone now recognizes the post-baby boom generation is much smaller. Just like the Ponzi schemes of Madoff, Social Security is destined to collapse as new ‘investors’ are hard to come by.
To some degree, it is ironic that the government is so critical of Ponzi schemes on Wall Street while operating their own scheme. The fact, however, is that the collapse of Wall Street’s schemes hurt far fewer people than will the inevitable collapse of Social Security. Proponents in favor of an increased role for government in the economy need only look to this scheme to see the folly of expanded government.
As everyone knows, Social Security must be fixed. While American confidence with the business world is at an extreme low, there is no reason that we should put anymore faith in the government to manage our futures. At this rate, I will be very surprised if I receive any money from Social Security upon my retirement.
The fact of the matter is that we must switch from the pay-as-you-go system that we currently have to one based on investment. Democrats are hesitant to give individuals greater control over the Social Security investments because it would put a damper on wealth redistribution. Social Security serves as a prime way to take money from the wealthy and give to the poor. Seemingly, the vested interests in the current system are afraid of losing this mechanism. They prefer to maintain a broken status quo, rather than give each American the power to save for his or her own future. The government has to let ordinary Americans take retirement savings into their own hands. The wrecked paternalism of Social Security must be replaced with individual initiative coupled with government support and education. This is the only way to avoid a Ponzi scheme collapse of epic proportions.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Unfortunately, the administration has not had the courage to admit that they made a mistake in going after Bush’s legal advisors. Not only has Obama not admitted to the morality and necessity of such techniques in certain instances, but his administration continues to push the issue for political reasons. While prosecution looks unlikely, the Justice Department is apparently considering recommendations of reprimands and even disbarment for the involved attorneys. (See the Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124157214390990085.html and the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/us/politics/06inquire.html?_r=1&hp).
Maybe my legal friends can shed some light on this, but I find reprimands and disbarment to be a nonsensical approach. If the administration truly feels something illegal was done (which it doesn’t seem they do) then a legal recourse should be taken. If they don’t then how can these lawyers justly be punished? To claim that the lawyers violated some ethical, but not legal, standards is absurd. Legitimate policies differences and interpretations of the law cannot and should not be ex post punished because one administration feels differently than the prior one.
The administration seems to be using reprimands and disbarment as a safety hatch to appease the anti-war liberal left. They boxed themselves into a corner by going after the Bush officials. Having seen the disastrous effects such criminal charges would have on domestic American sentiment and on our war on terror, the administration was forced to retreat. However, they still feel a need to pander to the short-sighted and morally simplistic left. If Holder was to drop the whole issue, the cries from Obama’s base would be deafening.
This seems to be a growing trend in the Obama administration. Obama overreached with a number of promises to the left; only to realize upon his ascent to power that despite all the vitriol, Bush’s policies were sound, moral, and necessary. His backpedaling on the Guantanamo issue is just one other example of this about-face. (See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124165410800493933.html). However, Obama feels the need to balance the retreat from his campaign promises with the fanaticism of the anti-war movement, which forms a large portion of his base. If he loses their support he will have little to stand on. This has prevented him from admitting that he ran his campaign on false pretenses. It also prevents him from correctly portraying the morality behind such techniques (See my discussion here http://anewrepublican.blogspot.com/2009/04/whats-wrong-with-waterboarding.html). This is most unfortunate because Obama is in the best position to open a national discussion of morality. Instead he simplistically claims that we need to take a non-existent ‘moral high ground’. What he really means is that he and his cronies are far too uncomfortable discussing complex moral issues. For this he is willing to scapegoat those brave enough to protect our country.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
First of all, a failure would negate the gains that have been made in the region since 9/11. Bush’s war in Afghanistan successfully removed the Taliban from power and, at one point, had them completely marginalized. Now under our new, ‘global-friendly’ leadership we are seeing a huge resurgence in their power. Certainly, not all of this is due to Obama’s faulty foreign policy. The fall of Musharraf and a myriad of domestic issues, such as the infighting amongst current moderates, play an enormous role in the current weak state of the country. However, a rebirth of Taliban leadership in Pakistan (and possibly Afghanistan) would be disastrous for the progress of the war on terror, the elimination of fanatical Islam, and establishment of global security.
The issue of global security is paramount. A re-failure to stem the Taliban’s ascent in Afghanistan would be bad enough. It would serve to undermine all the hard work over the past eight years. However, a failure in Pakistan is most certainly an existential threat to the U.S. Due to the nuclear capabilities of the country, a failure would mean there would be no accountability for Pakistan’s current nuclear stockpile. The Taliban would have access to nuclear warheads- to use themselves or sell to third parties such as Iran, North Korea, Al-Qaeda, or any enemy of the free world. This threat exists even short of a failure of the state. The Taliban could easily seize a few unfortunately placed nuclear warheads without having to take down the state.
The world community has to address this issue in a much stronger and more forthright way. In the short run, everything has to be done to stabilize and strengthen the current government in Pakistan. Money and assistance should flow in readily. Pressure should be put on corrupt or disinterested bureaucrats. Most importantly, the world must put immense pressure on the Pakistani government to cease making conciliatory deals with the Taliban. The current deal of Taliban weaponry for sharia law is unacceptable. These deals only serve to postpone the fighting and allow the Taliban to retrench itself. The army must be convinced that it needs to fight in the North. They must do everything they can to remove Taliban strongholds. This includes Pakistani military action, but also increased coordination and facilitation of American cross-border attacks on Taliban positions in Pakistan. The United States has to unapologetically go after targets in Pakistan, preferably with, but also without Pakistani assistance and blessings.
Furthermore, the world community must take steps to prepare for the worst case scenario of a government failure. The current government needs to be pressured to consolidate stockpiles of nuclear weapons away from the north. This will ensure that they are easy to account for and control. America must plan operations for an invasion of Pakistan. This, of course, needs to be a last resort; however, if the government fails the United States needs to secure Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile immediately. The Pakistani government needs to cooperate with the US (and the UN) to create ‘zero-hour’ contingencies- such as disclosures of stockpiles. [One necessary consideration is, of course, India- which Pakistan feels (incorrectly) is its number one threat.]
Pakistan is one issue where we cannot afford Obama’s ‘speak-humbly’ foreign policy. Every action must be taken to shore up the Pakistani government and decimate the Taliban. Right now, stability should be the sole goal. If not, we run the risk of facing catastrophic results.
Monday, May 4, 2009
In short, Ricci v. DeStefano pits white and Hispanic firefighters against city officials in New Haven. The firefighters’ claim is that they were denied promotions due to their race. After a promotion exam yielded a racial disparity, leaving no black employees eligible for promotion, the city tossed out the results of the exam. They bypassed the highest scoring individual (who was white) in favor of promoting a more ‘diverse’ group of firefighters. (See ABC http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/SCOTUS/Story?id=7393908&page=1 and MSNBC http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30346519 for further discussion).
This is an atrocious overreach of a policy, affirmative action, which is supposedly designed to remove racial inequities and ease America’s history of racial tension. Not only are New Haven’s actions unfair, but they are quite counterproductive. America is supposedly runs on a merit based system. We award promotions, bonuses, and raises to those who have performed well. Gains that are made in spite of merit are frequently disparaged. Look at the criticisms of Wall Street bonuses. Critics of large bonus always argue that the bankers did not deserve them. America operates on nearly every level as a meritocracy.
This is good for a number of reasons. First and foremost it incentivizes. It gives individuals reasons to be good at what they do- and get better. It encourages people to be hardworking and efficient. Secondly, through these incentives it helps to create a better society for all. The best-of-the-best rise to the top, forming stronger and more stable institutions. Most people would agree that they want the most qualified firemen and women leading the fire company. Few people would care what skin color the person has who saved their life. Presumably, New Haven felt this way too. After all, they originally developed and used a merit-based test to decide whom to grant promotions too.
However, this all fell apart when, for some reason, the racial makeup of the fireman did not match up with the merit-based hierarchy. It is unclear why the city felt the need to place racial diversity over merit. One possibility is that they believe the system would be much better with a broad swath of races at every level. Alternatively, they were overly concerned of charges of racism by the minorities who scored at the bottom of the exam. In order to avoid the standard litigation that would result if no blacks were promoted, New Haven probably felt that an affirmative action program was the safest recourse.
Unfortunately, this is far too common a problem in our society. We have moved far in the past forty years from a society steeped in racism. Much of this is because brave men and women fought against injustices that prevented people from rising, despite their merit. However, as we achieved this great success, we rapidly moved into overreach. Proponents of affirmative action are not looking to have equal access based on merit, but rather a greater number of ‘minorities’ present at higher levels. This is simply based on skin color. We are now too often left with an unfortunate reverse discrimination such as what we see in New Haven. Black individuals were promoted not because they were more qualified, but because they had better skin color. This is turning the corrupt system, prevalent in America prior to the 1960s, right on its head.
This is absolutely unfair. Just as the pre-Civil Rights system was unfair to blacks, this system is unfair to whites. Martin Luther King and his ilk fought for justice and equality, not a new color-coding of the system. Unfortunately, we have become so hypersensitive to discussions of race that we are unable to have open discussions about it. This allows bullies, such as Al Sharpton, to push their partisan, self-interested agendas with little impedance. Any arguments to the contrary are dismissed as racism.
This non-merit system is disastrous for our country. Not only does it give disincentives to work (after all why would I work hard if I know I am just going to passed over for promotion because my skin color is wrong), but it creates sourness and discord between Americans. The Civil Rights movement’s aim was to create reconciliation between the races (this is why MLK succeeded as its leader and not Malcolm X). We have swung the pendulum to the middle; we need to stop it from swinging too far to the other side.
Everything should be based on merit. Race should not be a consideration in the hiring, firing, and promotion process. There may very well be a reason behind the discrepancy in the scores of blacks, whites, and Hispanics on the New Haven promotion exam. We need to investigate why blacks performed worse. However, simply ignoring the reason for this discrepancy and covering up a possible deeper problem is not the answer. Affirmative action is not a solution, but a purposeful self-blinding. It prevents us from seeing the solutions to real problems; and frustrates America’s forward progress. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will take the steps necessary to end such practices.