Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Afirmative Action Update: There was an article in the New York Times last week that was quite interesting. It states that 64 Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, General Motors and Boeing along with serval top former military officials have filed briefs in favor of the University of Michigan's Affirmative Action policy.

What's interesting is that Big Business and the Military are not liberal institutions, but are very much the natural allies of Bush. Yet these groups sees diversity as an important goal. Why is that? It could be that they are acting as true realists. Many of the companies have had these policies in place for decades and have seen the benefits of a diverse workforce. The military have been intergrated for nearly 60 years and have seen integration work with little problems. If these two conservative institutions can take a pragmatic look at affirmative action and see that it is beneficial from its results, then why can't the Bush Administration see that? Affirmative Action is far from a perfect plan, but what Big Business and the Pentagon can see is that it works. It has proven that people who were not white or male are just as capable of doing the work asked of them. Conservatives talk a ! lot of about equality of opportunity. We believe that people should be given the chance to pursue their dreams. It seems that Affrimative Action is simply doing just that. Because the business community and the military have to deal with this issue day after day, they see that it works. It appears that the Bush Administration and the detractors of Affirmative Action seem to have shoved pragmatism aside for some kind of idealistic world where racism never has affected women and minorities or where they just don't exist at all.

Conservative Quote of the Day: "Conservatism is about the organic nature of society-the linkage between family, freedom, tolerance, civility, economic persuit, law, order, tradition and opportunity. It is about seeing any society as a living, breathing body with different needs, opportunities and relationships. It embraces values about human nature and the need for structures that restrain the worst and liberate the best in people accross the social spectrum. It embraces the core view that duty, responsibility, and order are the non-negotiable foundations upon which genuine freedom amd opportunity are built."

Hugh Segal from his book Beyond Greed.

For those who think that being a conservative means that you reflexively support war and spurn peaceful intiatives might want to read Nicholas Kistoff's column today in the New York Times. Kristoff talks about the Suez Crisis of 1956. In that case, France along with Britain and Israel attacked Egypt after that country nationalized the Suez Canal. Europe saw Egypt's leader Nasser as we Americans see Hussien today: as a Middle Eastern Hitler. In a twist, it was the conservative Eisenhower that forces the allies to back down and find a peaceful solution through, you guessed it, the United Nations.

There was a time when conservatives believed in institutions like th UN to solve problems like the one in Iraq. Conservatives also knew that one must be militarily strong, but always willing to make peace. After reading this, I came up with a few conclusions. First, Europe and France in particular have not always acted like the "Surrender Monkeys" that we think they are. Second, that todays conservatives sound like they are getting their lessons from the John Birch Society instead of from great Americans like Eisenhower.

Monday, February 24, 2003

If you want to read a good book about conservatism that is not written by the latest flash in the pan or hack from some right-wing group, I would urge you to read Beyond Greed, by Hugh Segal. Segal is a Canadian and a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. He attacks the me-myself-and I variant of neoconservatism that rules today. The book is not about outrage ala Ann Coulter, but about reasoned debate. Buy this book soon. It's puts flesh and bones on "compassionate conservatism," instead of using the phrase as a marketing tool.

Is it me, or have the neo cons become ahistorical when it comes to France? They are good at talking about "surrender monkeys," but forget that France came to our aid during the American Revolution, and what about the Partisans during World War II? It is the French that are trying to bring peace in Ivory Coast, a former French colony. Chirac is also no wimp. Remember that he was the one who sent the world in an uproar when France resumed nuclear testing. As for the cracks about the French being anti-American, let me share with you a quote from last week'sTime Magazineby President Chirac:

"I've known the US for a long time. I visit often, I've studied there, worked as a forklift operator for Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis and as a soda jerk for Howard Johnson's. I've hitchiked across the whole United States; I even worked as a jounralist and wrote a story for New Orleans Times-Picayune on the front page. I know the US perhaps better than most French people, and I really like the United States."

Hmmm, this doesn't sound like some one that hates the United States and all we stand for. What also odd is that the American neocons are beating up on a fellow conservative. Chirac is Gaullist, which is part of the French right. Frankly, Chirac is acting more conservative than most conservatives here. He is cautious and reading the situation. He isn't talking about a democratic Iraq and the flowering of democracy in a region that has no history of it. He is worried about how this might make a thousand bin Ladens flower instead of democracy. Here in America, conservatives are sounding more like doctrinare socialists who ignore history and have dreams of a more perfect world. The dreams of course turn into nightmares like the did in the Soviet Union.

Where is the center-right press? Last year, I wrote a piece talking about the lack of moderate conservative voices in the media. We have tons of press from the right wing, from liberal sources and from the far left. But there is zippo from the moderates. Why is that? It's important that we get our voices back in we want to save conservatism from itself.

Speaking of which, where is the Ripon Society? Does it even exist anymore? Their website seems to be updated once every year, you order their magazine and get nada. At a time where there needs to be a center-right think tank, Ripon seems to be MIA. This seems to require more investigation.

Republicans for Enviromental Protection has just released their Report Card for the Bush Administration at the halfway point. It's not a pretty picture. Bush gets many "D's" in his handling of the environment. Bush and many in the Congressional leadership seem to think that the only people who care about clean air and water are lefties. No, many staunch Republicans are environmentalists in the grand tradition of Teddy Roosevelt. To learn more, please read "The Bush Administration at Midterm: A Cloud over America's Natural Heritage."

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

No,Non, Nein, Nyet.
This weblog has not issued any statement on the upcoming war with Iraq. Until now.

As editor of the ModerateRepublican, I think that the rush to war is illogical, ill-advised, ill-timed and immoral.

I should say, I'm not your typical person against this war. I do not think that America is a "terrorist state" because of certain policies. I do not think any war is for oil. I also do think there are times when military action is complete justified. I had very little truck with the boming of Afghanistan after September 11. That was or is, a war of self-defense to stem a treat to our very existence as a people. We have a military in order to protect us from those who would seek to destroy the world as we know it.

But this upcoming war is not a war of self-defense. It is not even a preemptive war vis a vis Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. It is a preventative war on the chancethat Iraq might at some point develop a weapon of mass destruction to use against us or to give to terrorists. However, Iraq would do that at its peril. Even if they gave a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon to a group such as Al Queda, it would be likley that we would find the return address and strike back. Hussein maybe an evil man, but he is far from stupid. He would not risk losing his power by giving a weapon that could be traced back to him. He know the consquences would be his head.

Preventative war is a dangerous idea that threatens global stability. If we can attack Iraq on a vague threat, then can China attack Taiwan? Can India take on Pakistan? If we go into this risky venture, we have no leg to stand on if these other nations start wars on their own vague threats.

As an ordained minister, I also believe that preventative wars goes against Christian teaching. Many Christians beleive that war is a last resort. It is only used when it would be worse to not go to war. It does not appear at this time that we have come to that point of last resort. And in spite of comments to the contrary, Saddam is not a modern Hitler. He is a two bit tyrant that has threatened the world but he is far from the Arab furher.

Those who favor war talk about how he has tortured his own people. Yes he has. He is not a lover of human rights and has had a bloddy history of maiming and injuring those who get in his way. Many cite the fact that he gassed his own people in the last days of the Iran-Iraq war. Again, that is true and it is ghastly. But it happened 15 years ago, and Washington did not seem to care then. Why is that we are crying foul of something that happened over a decade ago when at the time we hardly cared? Yes, Hussien should have been called to the carpet for gassing the Kurds, but it should have happened a long time ago.

Then there is the connection to Al Queda. There are those who think that Iraq is behind every major terror attack that took place in the nineties. The evidence is pretty scant. The connections between Iraq,led by a secular Arab regime and the Isalmic fundamentalist Al Queda are pretty loose if they exist at all. The latest message from bin Laden talks about standing with the Iraqi people, but there was very little love for Hussien. If there was proof that Iraq had helped the conspirators of 9/11 then we should warm up the planes. However, the evidence is scant to none. If there is a clear link then the Bush Administation needs to give it to us and not give us conjecture.

Finally, this war takes us a way from our prime objective: the war on terrorism. We are at war with a enemy that wants to wipe us out. They have a warped view of religion that sanctions killing in the name of God. Focusing on Iraq has taken us off the goal. Plus, a war could also give us more solidiers in bin Laden's army of darkness that will end up trying to wreak havoc in the United States.

The French are correct in saying that we need to let the inspections work. Let them be backed up by peackeeping troops or military troops that could strike suspected targets if need be. But let us not create suffering for millions simply on some hunch. That is not conservative and it is not American.

Ooops, my bad..There are now reports that the latest code orange alert will be downgraded in the coming days. It turns out that the threats were unsubstantiated after all. While the Bush Administration deserves some blame, so does the press. Where were they in finding out if this was true or not? Don't they have a public responsibility to make sure we aren't falling for a case of crying wolf?

In Case of Emergency.....While I do not support this upcoming war with Iraq (see my editorial), I also have problems with some peace activists, especially religious peace activists. They seem to have an ideological pacifism that is against any type of war however justified it may be. These were the types that were against boming Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 attacks. As unseemly as it was to do that, it was necessary to disrupt Al Queda and prevent future attacks. Nonviolence is an honorable tactic and has been sucessful. Witness the Civil Rights movement of the peaceful protests of 1989 that brought an end to the Iron Curtain. However, there are times when force is necessary, even if it is still sinful. Theologian Dietrich Bonehoeffer was a committed pacifist that joined in assisnation plot to kill Hitler. He thought the action was sinful, but knew the alternative was a man bent on killing an entire peop! le. Some peace activists think that any conflict can be dealt with by talking to the other. That can work on some occasions, but not others. We do not live in a black and white world, but a world where the choices are sometimes grey. War now, is a bad option when there are many others. But that is not always the case.

As a Christian, I believe taking a life is wrong. But so is genocide. In a world where you might have to be faced with the choice of killing someone or allowing that person to harm others, I'd ask God to forgive me and regretfully draw the sword.

For a better America...The Atlantic Monthly has a great series of articles by fellows from the New America foundation about how to solve some of the nation's pressing problems. Entitled the "Real State of the Union," the February issue explores ideas such as health care, education and race realtions outside of the typical and sterile left-right debate. What these articles show is how deviod of ideas that the Democrats and Republicans parties are. Both sides are more interested in obstructing the other than trying to come together for the good of the country.

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