Posts tagged ‘Andrew Sullivan’

June 30, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: Reflecting on New York’s Marriage Law (Part 2)

by Vince Giordano

Let’s first take a look at Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s lamentation over New York (this is almost the most foaming at the mouth pro-family you can get today):

I have long opposed the redefinition and nullification of marriage, the central building block for society. Indeed, as a U.S. senator I co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act and the Federal Marriage Amendment. As a citizen, I actively campaigned against the judges in Iowa who ordered gay marriage there.  I also was one of the first to step out and encourage the leadership of the House of Representatives to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court when the president refused to do so. Unlike others in this race, I believe it is the role of the president to weigh in when states try to redefine the meaning of marriage. Marriage is defined in the federal law as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife; any state that redefines marriage is wreaking havoc not only with the definitions of the federal law and the majority of states, but, even more importantly, with the single most important and time-tested institution of every successful society.

My emphasis is made on the last sentence. There is a general lamenation that traditional marriage is fleeting. To some, passing legislation to allow people of different sexual orientations dissolves traditional marriage. But wait, same-sex marriage has been legal in some states for some time now. Why has the family been doing better, not worse, since then? David Frum gives a personal take:

I was a strong opponent of same-sex marriage. Fourteen years ago, Andrew Sullivan and I forcefully debated the issue at length online (at a time when online debate was a brand new thing).

Yet I find myself strangely untroubled by New York state’s vote to authorize same-sex marriage — a vote that probably signals that most of “blue” states will follow within the next 10 years.

I don’t think I’m alone in my reaction either. Most conservatives have reacted with calm — if not outright approval — to New York’s dramatic decision.


The short answer is that the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test.

Since 1997, same-sex marriage has evolved from talk to fact.

If people like me had been right, we should have seen the American family become radically more unstable over the subsequent decade and a half.

Instead — while American family stability has continued to deteriorate — it has deteriorated much more slowly than it did in the 1970s and 1980s before same-sex marriage was ever seriously thought of.

By the numbers, in fact, the 2000s were the least bad decade for American family stability since the fabled 1950s. And when you take a closer look at the American family, the facts have become even tougher for the anti-gay marriage position.

Mataconis sums up Frum’s point:

Indeed. We’ve lived with same-sex marriage, and more generally increasing acceptance of homosexuality, for long enough now to know that the gloom-and-doom preachers were wrong and that the world isn’t going to end just because two women, or two men, go down to City Hall and get a marriage license.

Kathryn Jean Lopez brings up a quote from George Weigel. She ends her post with no comment regarding his quote:

Marriage, as both religious and secular thinkers have acknowledged for millennia, is a social institution that is older than the state and that precedes the state. The task of a just state is to recognize and support this older, prior social institution; it is not to attempt its redefinition. To do the latter involves indulging the totalitarian temptation that lurks within all modern states: the temptation to remanufacture reality. The American civil-rights movement was a call to recognize moral reality; the call for gay marriage is a call to reinvent reality to fit an agenda of personal willfulness. The gay-marriage movement is thus not the heir of the civil-rights movement; it is the heir of Bull Connor and others who tried to impose their false idea of moral reality on others by coercive state power.

A humane society will find ample room in the law for accommodating a variety of human relationships in matters of custodial care, hospital visiting rights, and inheritance. But there is nothing humane about the long march toward the dictatorship of relativism, nor will there be anything humane about the destination of that march, should it be reached. The viciousness visited upon Archbishop Dolan and other defenders of marriage rightly understood during the weeks before the vote in Albany is yet another testimony to the totalitarian impulse that lurks beneath the gay marriage movement.

Because a same-sex marriage is not reality for some heterosexuals does not mean it is not reality for others. You gotta love the comparison of Bull Conor and the use of fire hoses (powerful enough to peel bark off of trees) on African Americans in preventing them to vote to marriage equality (legislatively achieved through many measures, not in totalitarian fashion by a dictator). As Sullivan notes, we live in a republic, not a church. I am left wondering what aspects of life are on the sacrosanct list never to be touched, altered, or changed for the sake of doing something about an ever growing group of humans

(Photo: A young boy waves a flag during the 2011 NYC LGBT Pride March on the streets of Manhattan on June 26, 2011 in New York City. Thousands of revelers had reason to celebrate since New York state legislators approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage which Governor Cuomo signed in to law on Friday June 24. By Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

June 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince Giordano

Pundits speak of her lack of professional organization. What they don’t speak of so often is her willingness to say and do things very few politicians will. She will play the race card powerfully, often and repeatedly. She will run a campaign against Obama as an un-American. She will run on hatred of elites, will turn every sad gaffe, lie or untruth into “truth”, she will deploy religious motifs more effectively than any Republican candidate in modern times. In the last campaign she accused Obama of being a friend of terrorists, and was prevented from using Jeremiah Wright in the last few weeks of the campaign. She will make the Willie Horton ad look like happytalk.

Most responsible politicians do not throw gasoline on a cultural tinderwood. But remember Tucson. Even then, she could show no restraint, no regret, no responsibility. Even when a politician was shot in the head, she tried to divide and conquer. And the MSM have no idea how to handle her, how to cope with her, how to expose her. She destroyed them last time and somehow perpetuated the meme that they destroyed her. This is a dangerous, dangerous person.” —Andrew Sullivan responding to Howard Dean’s remarks on Palin being a legit 2012 candidate.

Some amusing “according to Palin” tweets.

June 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince Giordano

Reflections on Sarah Palin as a 2012 candidate and POTUS:

“The objections to Mrs Palin are about personality rather than policy. The fear is that she’s too reckless, too divisive and too intemperate to be an effective president. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to think that voters will go for it.” –Erica Grieder

“Given the massive debt, I think her prescription of more, big tax cuts is like giving an alcoholic a free jagermeister supply. Given the perilous instability and transformation in the Middle East, I think accelerating the colonization of the West Bank is insanely reckless, and striking Iran potentially catastrophic. An energy policy that focuses entirely on sustaining a carbon economy is terribly short-sighted. I suspect she would gladly bring back torture into the American government. Above all, I agree with George Will that someone this unstable, this disturbed and this delusional having access to the nuclear codes terrifies me. These concerns are not all about personality, although in her case, I think we have someone outside any conventional boundaries of responsibility. They are also about preventing America accelerating its decline.” –Andrew Sullivan








June 1, 2011

Humans as Patients as Consumers

by Vince Giordano

Andrew Sullivan cites a Krugman column with a logically binding quote:

HALF of all health care costs in the US is concentrated in only 5% of the population, and 80% of costs are accounted for by the top quintile! (source: Kaiser Foundation PDF)

So the effect here is that with such a concentration of costs in such a small segment of the population, the ability of the larger population to move the market is highly restricted. You can make 80% of consumers highly price sensitive, but they can only affect a tiny fraction of healthcare spending. And for the generally well, their costs are probably those which are least responsible for the spiraling inflation. They’re not getting $30,000 stents or prolonged ICU stays, or needing complex chronic disease management.

Conversely, those who are high consumers of health care simply cannot be made more price sensitive, since their costs are probably well beyond what they could pay in any event, and for most are well beyond the limits of even a catastrophic health insurance policy.

Once you are told that you need a bypass/chemo/stent/dialysis/NICU etc, etc, etc, the costs are so overwhelming that a consumer cannot possibly pay them out of pocket. Since, by definition, these catastrophic costs are paid by some form of insurance, the consumer cannot have much financial interest in cost containment. For most, when they are confronted with a major or life-threatening illness, their entire focus shifts to survival, and they could care less about the cost

This combats both Obama’s and the Republican approach to reform health care and Medicare. Some more feedback on this can be found here.

May 22, 2011

Rapture Wrap: Anti-Smugness and Secular Rapturists

by Vince Giordano

Some interesting reads just came my way in regards to the rapture.

Would any secular person be a believer in the apocalypse? Yes:

But a person does not have to be a hard-core believer to sense that things like the environment, the economy, and the political system are appallingly broken. From there, it is only a short step to the view that the entire system is verging on a catastrophic collapse or must be completely swept away, or that any solution to these problems requires something outside normal human agency, such as an idealized or divinized form of humanity, a mysterious, hidden-hand “force” or “law” (such as the “forces” of history or the market), or a human figure of whom extraordinary deeds are expected. This is the “Daddy” complex: a belief in or need for something or someone greater than ourselves, who will solve our problems for us.

Also, Andrew Sullivan doesn’t agree with the smug mentality towards those unfortunately taken advantage of by Harold Camping:

Laughing at religious fanatics is nothing new. And, at some level, there’s nothing wrong with it. But this story didn’t just take off in popularity because people wanted a quick laugh or some insight into a quirky subset of our country. There’s a cruelty underlying our desire to laugh at this story—a desire to see people humiliated and to revel in our own superiority and rationality—even though the people in question are pretty tragic characters, who either have serious problems themselves or perhaps are being taken advantage of, or both.

I agree on two points. There has been something a little smug about how eager so many are to humiliate the end-timers; and there is a poignancy in the evangelical nuttery. But to ask a country not to laugh at such idiocies seems more than a little quixotic to me. And the Rapture nutters are not orthodox Christians – but rather Book of Revelations crackpots. They are not examples of religious faith but of marginal nutballism. Such nutballism begs to be made fun of.

(Pictured: James Warren Jones, known as cult leader Jim Jones).

May 12, 2011

A Multicultural Tea Party?

by Vince Giordano

Yes, I have seen Tea party members who are non-white (Herman Cain is one now in the spotlight) but I have also seen some in photos and videos on the front lines (Tea Party rallies). Regardless of those outlier individuals of non-white heritage, the group is generally above 45 years of age, white, middle class, and bitter.

Andrew Sullivan pushes back against any notion that the TP has anything to offer many other surging (and non-surging) demographic groups:

Does the Tea Party, even in its symbolism, welcome Hispanics? If so, why is the love so unreciprocated? Could it be the virulent cultural xenophobia and nostalgia that pulses through the movement? Does it welcome African-Americans, even as it demonizes and race-baits the first African-American president? Does it embrace women, even as it seeks to abolish all legal abortion under all circumstances? Does it appeal to the young, even as it refuses even to contemplate any civil rights for gay people?

Nice idea. But nowhere to be found.

March 23, 2011

Visual Stimulation of the Day

by Vince Giordano

Wagon Christ Chunkothy Promo (official music video) from celyn Brazier on Vimeo.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

March 22, 2011

What are we doing?

by Vince Giordano

Charles Krauthammer (usually a war hawk) has some good words for our new war in Libya:

I would simply say the United States is not omnipotent. If we were, we would be everywhere, and we would be consistent, and we would stop every slaughter on the planet, and we would be in the Congo right now. And why aren’t we in the Ivory Coast? Ivory Coast had an election, the dictator lost the election, he refused to accept the other side, he’s been shooting people in the streets. I mean, where are we going to go with this? I think you have to have two things in order to act. You have to have a moral justification, you’re protecting slaughter, maybe preventing a genocide. But you also have to have a strategic rationale. Otherwise, we will spend ourselves into penury, into destitution, and into very great sorrow by deploying all over the world. So I mean, it seems to me we have to be extremely hard-headed as well as idealistic about this. You have to have a moral rationale and a strategic one. If you only have one and not the other, you don’t act.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

March 18, 2011

The Grey Areas of Unemployment Coverage

by Vince Giordano

Readers continue to write in to Andrew Sullivan. Here is a portion of one’s letter:

In an era when those who brought down our financial system get multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses, when the wealthy pay the lowest taxes in 50 years, when there are huge tax breaks for corporations with billions in profits, it blows my mind to see teachers, the poor, and those with disabilities attacked.

Explicit fraud should never be tolerated, and the Obama administration efforts to root out Medicare fraud are necessary and admirable.  However, when there are gray areas (instances where abuse seems obvious but can be difficult to prove), percentages matter.  When the percentage in the gray area is relatively small, the moral and financial costs of rooting out abuse far exceed any benefits to society.

It is sad when those who have never needed unemployment coverage (minus Rush Limbaugh) paint all who need or use it as parasites.

March 11, 2011

How Rush Limbaugh Sees Our Recession

by Vince Giordano

I have off school today so I am able to relax a bit (I really need to), have some coffee with cream, and write about an article that stuck out to me. I am sometimes so drained during the week that it is hard for me to put together my thoughts and churn out a piece. However, when someone explains something to a T, its hard not to

write about it.

I don’t think I have ever been in my car and listened to Rush Limbaugh. You could count me as lucky. However, from time to time I catch glimpses of his screeds on his website. Andrew Sullivan highlighted one particular screed of his that captures Rush’s true essence:

We all know Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, but unemployment compensation? The payment of unemployment benefits is almost as high as Social Security in this country.  Folks, we are not going to survive as a nation, not the way we’ve been founded, with this kind of sloth and laziness and feeding at the public trough. It just cannot happen.  And to even call this “wages” — I’m actually kinda glad they did because it points out how ludicrous this is and how dangerous it is.  “Handouts,” handouts, the redistribution of wealth “makes up one-third of US wages.”  Social welfare spending has increased three and a half times since 1960.

We declared war on poverty, and it’s given us this.  We declared war on poverty, and what do we have?  Thirty-five percent of our people living on the dole!  Thirty-five percent of American citizens living on “handouts,” and where are the handouts coming from?  Their fellow citizens… I know it’s depressing, folks.  I mean some people are so lazy that they will only be unemployed if they’re paid to be unemployed.

After his min-sermon, a listener dialed in to share his real (not abstract) story of battling cancer, being unable to work, and collecting unemployment benefits. Rush’s response:

Do you think I actually think you ought to be denied stuff? Okay.  I don’t think that.  I’m not talking about people like you, but there are people who fudge this disability business.  I had a story not long ago about a bunch of drunks in jail getting disability payments because they were alcoholics. Well, we are a compassionate country.  There is not a person in this country that does not want somebody who cannot provide for themselves to go empty.  There’s not a person in the world who wants that. You don’t fall under the headline definition freeloader or what have you.  And if you’re bothered by it, it’s life.

A lot of things affect a lot of people.  But we’re not talking about you.  And you are not the majority of that 35% on the dole anyway.  You’re a small percentage of it.  You’re not the problem we’re talking about.

Sullivan sums up Rush’s general caricature of those unemployed as jailed drunks, lazy sloths, and the like. As Sullivan put it, Rush backs down from his abstract tirade when faced with a real life case.

What does this show us? Maybe we shouldn’t allow bigots such as Rush dictate the conversation every time unemployment benefits come up for renewal in Congress. Maybe we shouldn’t let a multi-millionaire tell us how every person on unemployment acts, behaves, or uses their money. Maybe we should turn off the radio and step into the actual world of someone whose life is decaying because of being without a job.

March 3, 2011

Adapted Reading List

by Vince Giordano

Thanks, Ted, for the idea.

Now that I am teaching, lesson planning, and actually working, I hardly have the energy to devote myself to reading in the same way as a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, here are some books that I am currently reading and would like to soon:

To Know as We Are Known by Parker Palmer*
Beyond Tolerance by Gustav Niebuhr*
The Conservative Soul: Fundamentalism, Freedom, and the Future of the Right by Andrew Sullivan
Theology for Liberal Presbyterians And Other Endangered Species by Douglas F. Ottati
Love Wins: About Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person who has ever lived by Rob Bell**

* I am almost done these two fine books.
**This one has already received the typical shit storm from universalist labelers.

February 22, 2011

American Budget Quote of the Day

by Vince Giordano

“When actually asked what they’d be prepared to cut from government largesse, we get the usual answer – foreign aid – but, er, that’s about it, according to the new Harris poll. There’s even a national majority for farm subsidies! On where the real money is, Americans are the most adamant about retaining what they’ve got. On healthcare, 67 percent oppose any cuts; on social security, a whopping 81 percent want no change. Now for the really scary part: compare that to 1980, when 37 percent wanted cuts in government healthcare spending. That figure is now 12 percent. So as the explosion in healthcare costs have occurred, Americans have actually grown more resistant to doing anything about them. In fact, on almost ever measure

There’s a reason for Obama’s reluctance to speak specifically about what needs to be done. But it seems to me that this is why a major emphasis on saving us from fiscal collapse is necessary. If most Americans really believe cutting foreign aid and pork will balance the budget, they’re delusional. Meanwhile, the GOP seems to be focusing entirely on discretionary spending that will damage some of the actually good things that government does, while ignoring the massive borrowing that healthcare entitlements, a neo-imperial defense structure and, to a lesser extent, social security require.”

Andrew Sullivan

February 20, 2011

Democratic Thought For Sunday

by Vince Giordano

Andrew Sullivan provides a profound thought on the pursuit of democracy in the Middle East vis-à-vis Libya, Egypt and now Bahrain:

…when was the last time you saw frenzied crowds in the streets in several Muslim Arab countries where the American flag wasn’t being burned? We finally figured out how to help democracy in the Arab world: get out of the way and nudge quietly from a distance.

February 19, 2011

Saturday Reads

by Vince Giordano

I give you two extended (but not too long) reads by Andrew Sullivan:

  1. Obama’s budget says screw you to the next generation.
  2. How to be ‘generously angry‘.
January 19, 2011

Revisiting American Exceptionalism

by Vince Giordano

Andrew Sullivan explains it well:

Over at National Review, Rich Lowry has written a daring column about American greatness:

When the likes of Marco Rubio, the new Republican senator from Florida, say this is the greatest country ever, sophisticated opinion-makers cluck and roll their eyes. What a noxious tea-party nostrum. How chauvinistic. What hubris.

Yet, what other countries deserve this designation?

His conclusion: “Our greatness is simply a fact.”

Somehow Lowry fails to grasp why this kind of assertion is so, well, fatuous and irritating. Imagine that once a month or so, Michael Jordan called a press conference, confidently listed his achievements as a basketball player, and insisted, “My greatness is simply a fact.” He’d be correct: he was a spectacular basketball player, arguably the best in history. Same with Tiger Woods. Or Stephen Hawking. On the other hand, we’re put off when people announce their own greatness – experience has taught that they’re usually doing so because they’re a braggart, or a narcissist, or a bully. (In Rich Lowry’s case, it’s intellectual bullying – wielding the collective club of nationalism against genuine worries about America’s fiscal bankruptcy, academic decline, and economic stagnation).

Yes, enough with the over flowering and over complicating intellectual bullying.


December 18, 2010

The Repeal of DADT: An Early Christmas Present

by Vince Giordano

The Senate repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Gosh, let that sink in for a moment.

The final tally was 66-33. I just about thought this bill was dead after the bundled bill failed the other week.

Reactions to this momentous achievement from the president, bitter John McCain, and Andrew Sullivan.

December 2, 2010

GOP Quotes for the Night

by Vince Giordano

On the possibility of a government shutdown courtesy of Republicans:

I view it as a little naïve. First of all, you can’t shut down the government. There are public safety, national security issues, that override a well-intended point, I’m sure, that government is way too big. Better to have a plan on how you reduce the debt by reducing the deficit. And that plan is out there…You can create a roadmap where you have declining deficits that would create a whole lot of confidence, a lot more confidence than shutting down government for a couple of weeks and then admitting that its not going to be finished. It’s harder to build consensus around the tough choices that have to be made, but that’s what has to be done. –Jeb Bush

On the Republicans putting their partisan goals before the common good, thus acting as a nihilist establishment:

What we’ve observed these past two years is a political party that knows nothing but scorched earth tactics, cannot begin to see any merits in the other party’s arguments, refuses to compromise one inch on anything, and has sought from the very beginning to do nothing but destroy the Obama presidency. I see no other coherent message or strategy since 2008. Just opposition to everything, zero support for a president grappling with a recession their own party did much to precipitate, and facing a fiscal crisis the GOP alone made far worse with their spending in the Bush-Cheney years. There is not a scintilla of responsibility for their past; not a sliver of good will for a duly elected president. Worse, figures like Cantor and McCain actively seek to back foreign governments against the duly elected president of their own country, and seek to repeal the signature policy achievement of Obama’s first two years, universal healthcare. –Andrew Sullivan

November 29, 2010

Then and Now: Conservatives and the Briggs Initiative

by Vince Giordano

Fast forward to the 3:40 mark. Sullivan brings up the Briggs Initiative and essentially how it is viewed today (73% of conservatives oppose gays/lesbians/those who support gay rights teaching in public schools) compared to yore (Ronald Regan was against it and helped defeat it). A historical note, too, was that Harvey Milk was a strong supporter against it (duh!).

Sullivan rightly wonders: has the conservative movement today gone in a strongly rightward direction?

I wonder: how can you claim to worship at the church of Ronald Regan and mis-attribute his views?

November 29, 2010

Drawing a Line

by Vince Giordano

Andrew Sullivan is a major critic of Sarah Palin. He draws conclusions on Palin that I disagree with and documents her life and her families (in my opinion) way too much. He digs up and into issues she has with her family and delves into what is seemingly every aspect of her singular life. I draw the line when it comes to judging how she raises her children.

What Palin has done is use her children, having failed to actually rear them. She is still doing it on her reality show. That she has gone so far as to use and thereby abuse a child with Down Syndrome whose interests are clearly in seclusion, careful nurturing and care, and constant parental attention, tells you a huge amount.

I believe that the media cannot report everything to us, especially what goes on behind closed doors. With that being said, what Palin does do out in the public is rather questionable. Then again, that is how she chooses to ‘campaign’ and live her life (when writing her recent book, she was down in California living in an apartment writing until 5 in the morning).

Her first decision was agreeing to run for vice-president with a months’ old child with Down Syndrome and a pregnant teenage daughter. You do that, your kids will be at least somewhat in the public eye. But she blindsides the campaign with the teen pregnancy, puts out her own press release about it the Saturday before the convention, and in the same chaotic weekend, the campaign also has to deal with the bizarre details of her one-month public pregnancy and bi-continental, airplane labor with Trig. Anyone one who genuinely cared about the privacy of her kids would have either said no or been extremely careful to release the information as soberly as possible.

And what happens thereafter? She pushes her daughter into a public spotlight, subsequently making her an abstinence advocate, and supporting her appearance on a reality show. She engages in a public family spat with the father of her grandson, Tripp. And she parades a special needs infant in front of the press, dangles him half-naked in front of book tour crowds, uses him constantly as a rhetorical campaign prop, and cites him at almost every speech to appeal to pro-life voters. She also uses her son, Track, to appeal to veterans and the military. She brings her children with her throughout her now two-year campaign for national office, disturbing their schooling and rendering them vulnerable to further inquiry from the tabloids, even as they strike deal with tabloids for their own stories.

To be disgusted by this spectacle is emphatically not a double standard.

What Palin has done with her young children is unprecedented. Think of how Obama strictly protects his daughters, and how George W. Bush did the same. Yes, Romney and McCain involve their offspring in politics – but Meghan McCain is a critic of the GOP, and Romney’s kids stuck to Mormon gee-whiz isn’t Daddy great stuff. None of them actively enlisted their kids in reality show television.

On a final note, check out Sullivan’s note/caveat on Palin’s defense of her “North Korean allies” gaffe.

November 10, 2010

A Foundation of Lies

by Vince Giordano

Andrew Sullivan took a swing at a party’s ideology which is out to distort everything and anything Barack Obama. Dave True put it in simple terms: liberals expect too much civility and conservatives do not. True’s words come true in every piece by Sullivan defending Obama and in almost every sound bite by congressional Republicans.

I see this (strong) case for a political foundation of lies based on your view of the stimulus and bailouts. Then take that and add to it who benefit from them, how the common good is affected by all of that and if you see this all in a short or long term approach.

I encourage everyone to read the full transcript of any speech by any major politician before tuning in to an opinionated columnist or even Fox news. Read it for yourself, interpret it yourself, and make up your own mind. The loud talkers, either by decibel or syndication, take the power grab opportunities via ad hominem tactics. Politics for the ultra conservative and the religiously conservative is about controlling the path and any moderation or “meeting your opponent at the middle ground” is seen as a sign of weakness. In the end, the common good stagnates, gridlocks, and morally withers when a society is lead by quick spoken demagogues.