Andrew Sullivan is a commentator for the Sunday Times in England, and the New Republic in the United States. If you want to understand the ideologies and personalities behind the latest headlines, look no further than his insightful wesbite : AndrewSullivan.Com.
Articles - Quotes - Jokes : Politics Index - Home
*The Pursuit of Happiness : The power of four revolutionary words.
*Watch It : Why we all need to see Timothy McVeigh's execution.
*Pil-Poppers : The right and wrong way to combat AIDS in Africa.
*Living the Good Life : Today's seniors are the most pampered generation in history, and its paid for by everyone else.
*Saving the Boys : Feminists face defeat in their war against boys.
*Rainbow Society : The diversity of people thriving in the United States echoes in a post-racial future.
*Funny Money : The power of money to decide US elections before they've even begun.
*The American Kingdom : In the most professedly meritocratic nation, political dynasties rule the roost.
*The Killing Truth - Columbine Massacre : Evil is a part of human nature, however much we want to explain it away with guns, hollywood and modern living.
*Abortion & Crime : Did abortions in the 70s cause lower crime rates in the 90s?
*It's Ideology Stupid : Why Al Gore is struggling in the presidential election.
A nation isn't simply its people today. It's also its people yesterday. It's a contract, not just between the current generations, but between all the generations who have ever made it up.
- "Why We Care", London Times 07/04/02
Even when Americans
are nostalgic, they are nostalgic for a myth of the future.
Second, I'm thankful for the American talent for contradiction. The country that sustained slavery for longer than any other civilised country is also the country that has perhaps struggled more honestly for the notion of racial equality than any other. The country that has a genuine public ethic of classlessness also has the most extreme economic inequality in the developed world. The country that is most obsessed with pressing the edge of modernity also has the oldest intact constitution in the world.
At the end of November each year this restless, contradictory and simple country finds a way to celebrate itself. The British, as befits a people at ease with themselves, do not have a national day. When the French do, their insecurity shows. Even America, on the fourth of July, displays a slightly neurotic excess of patriotism. But on Thanksgiving, the Americans resolve the nationalist dilemma. They don't celebrate themselves, they celebrate their good fortune. And every November, as I reflect on a country that can make even an opinionated Englishman feel at home, I know exactly how they feel.
- "My America - A Thanksgiving Reflection", London Times 24/11/96.
You cannot negotiate peace with people whose power is entirely dependent on the will to wage war. This is anathema to many Americans steeped in the banality that peace talks are always better than no talks, that ancient conflicts can always be solved by the right facilitator. But the IRA's refusal to disarm is no mystery. War is its rationale. If power really were negotiated and shared, the IRA would be supplanted by moderate Republicans who would, by their very involvement in an Ulster government, legitimize continued British sovereignty. Why should a group that has gained everything it has through violence and murder, and whose raison d'être is implacable hostility to any British presence, ever decide that politics is a useful alternative? It's like asking turkeys to vote for Thanksgiving. They can't. They won't. And real peace won't break out until they do.
- "War in Peace"
One heartening piece of news from the World Conference Against Racism and Stuff is the statement from the Non-Government Organizations from the former eastern bloc, including many Russian democrats. They knew the score, arguing that, "We must emphasize that the language of the chapter "Palestinians and Palestine" as well as the deliberate distortions made to the chapter "Anti-Semitism" is extremely intolerant, disrespectful and contrary to the very spirit of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance." Their post-script is priceless: "PS: On top of all the troubles of the NGO Forum, at the closing ceremony, the delegates had to listen for over two hours to a speech by Fidel Castro. We are offended by the fact that one of the worst dictators in the contemporary world, particularly notorious for gross violations of human rights, was invited to address this world gathering of non-governmental organizations. Listening to Fidel speak, we only had to wonder why the organizers had failed to invite Alexander Lukashenko, Turkmenbashi, Saddam Hussein, or a representative of the Taliban regime." Amen.
- "Daily Dish : The Former Eastern Bloc Versus Durban"
Among Michael Oakeshott's heresies was the notion that government should sometimes be judged not on what it does but on what it resists doing. Unlike many "conservative" theorists before him, Oakeshott was completely reconciled to a liberal polity, in which pluralism was the highest value. But, unlike many "liberal" theorists, he also believed the modern state was a deep threat to such pluralism. Its inexorable growth, fueled by the confidence that many human problems (poverty, hatred, inequality) could be resolved by rational analysis and government action, was a threat, in Oakeshott's view, to civilized life. Activist governments imposed crude solutions unsuited to the complex societies they presided over. Worse, every accretion of state power came inevitably at the expense of private individuals engaged in chaotic but often productive attempts to make their own lives - and those of others - better. So Oakeshott disdained the easy arrogance of Great Society liberals and appreciated the spontaneous forms of order that free societies can create if left to themselves.
- "Negatives : The Promise of Bush's Inaction"
"What happens when
the sacrosanct right to kill a fetus at any stage of development for any
reason gets to be politically incorrect? A fascinating piece in Sunday's
New York Times reports on what has been happening in India. Over the last
decade or so, with ultra-sound technology becoming more and more available,
women are aborting increasing numbers of fetuses found to be female. The
resulting imbalance is getting extreme. In Punjab, India's most fertile
agricultural region, there are now only 8 girls born for every 10 boys.
There's a word for this: eugenics. The grimmer fact is that nothing seems
to be able to stop it. A law was passed in 1994 outlawing ultrasound tests
for gender, but it is basically impossible to enforce.
Sexist eugenics is only one possibility, of course. Before too long, we'll find all sorts of reasons to abort fetuses - wrong gender, genetic predispositions to certain diseases, wrong sexual orientation, and on and on. It seems to me that it will be impossible to stop this without the kind of intervention in abortion rights that pro-choicers refuse to countenance. At which point, pro-choicers will have to accept that eugenics are indistinguishable from their crusade or reverse or nuance their position on abortion."
- Sexism and Abortion
George W Bush committed
a gaffe last week. A gaffe, as the journalist Michael Kinsley once explained,
is when a politician tells the truth. The truth is that the Kyoto accord
is now and always has been a dead letter, as far as the United States (and
most other developed countries) is concerned.
In the high-powered circles of the Euro elites, these kinds of things are not supposed to be admitted. The whole point of grand international treaties is to affirm great principles, abiding goals, lofty targets - and then do nothing about them. Think of the Soviet Union and the Helsinki accords. Or most EU countries and EU directives.
...The days of blather are over. Bush's job, after all, is first to defend and protect the interests of the people he represents. It says something about the skewed priorities of our current international order - especially in the undemocratic, higher reaches of the EU - that this should seem so shocking.
- Bush and Kyoto
Interesting piece today in the Washington Post, pointing out that the richest 400 tax payers pay as much to the feds as the poorest 40 million in taxes. It kind of puts into perspective the constant refrain that Bush's tax cut mainly benefits the rich. In today's lopsided economy, any reduction in all tax rates will inevitably benefit the rich. I guess Al Gore wasn't smart enough to figure that out. The real worry is the danger in a system where increasing numbers of people are consumers of government goodies, and a smaller and smaller number of people pay for more and more of it. This is a recipe for majoritarian tyranny. If we have one-person-one-vote and you can always vote for higher taxes and spending, knowing you won't ever have to pay for it, why not do so? There's a reason public spending increased by 8 percent last year under a Republican Congress. And there's a reason some Republicans are quietly insouciant about possible future deficits under their tax plan. They figure there's no legitimate way to stop the dependent class voting for more and more, except throwing the government into periodic fits of bankruptcy. There really ought to be a better way.
"There once was a man
Who suffered a serious Trauma
When his father said,
'Son, I screw camels for fun,
And you really resemble your mama.' "
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