Daily Archives: June 16, 2011

Quote of the Day

Andrew Sullivan today on why the GOP are not conservatives:

As I studied political philosophy more deeply, the core argument for conservatism was indeed that it was truer to humankind’s crooked timber; that it was more closely tethered to earth rather  than heaven; that it accepted the nature of fallen man and did not try to permanently correct it, but to mitigate our worst instincts and encourage the best, with as light a touch as possible. Religion was for bishops, not presidents. Utopias were for liberals; progress was not inevitable; history did not lead in one obvious direction; we are all limited by epistemological failure and cultural bias.

So on taxes today, a conservative would ask: what have we learned about the impact of lower rates over the last two decades – now the lowest as a percentage of GDP since the 1950s? In healthcare, what have we learned about the largely private system the GOP wants to preserve? A conservative would look at home and abroad for empirical answers, acknowledging no ultimate solution but the need for constant reform because society is always changing. On gay rights, a classic social change, he’d ask what a society should do in integrating the emergence of so many openly gay people, couples and families. On foreign policy, he’d move on a case by case basis, not by way of a “doctrine.”

On these terms, today’s GOP could not be less conservative. I’d insist it’s less conservative than Obama. It does not present reality-based reform for emergent problems. It simply reiterates dogma and ruthlessly polices dissent or debate.

So no tax increases are allowed, period. Why? Because they “kill jobs”. So why do we have record unemployment after a period of unprecedentedly low taxation? No answer. If lower taxes have led to stagnation, the answer must always be: lower taxes some more. Why not end them all together?

(Cartoon from Jesus’ General: “An 11 on the manly scale of absolute gender.”)


It’s Bloomsday.

Radio Bloomsday will be reading the text all day. You can listen to it here.

From Frye’s review of New Directions in Prose and Poetry in Canadian Forum (December 1942):

Pendulum theories of art don’t work. Poems and pictures are real things; “tradition” and “experiment” are abstract nouns. To judge a concrete thing in terms of one abstract quality is to study it in one of many possible aspects. Which may well be worth doing. But to look at all art as split down the middle into an antithesis of abstract qualities hamstrings all criticism and insults all masterpieces; for the better the work of art, the more rewarding it will be to study it from opposing points of view. Thus, one could write an interesting essay on Ulysses as an experimental novel, and an equally interesting one on Ulysses as a traditional novel. But Ulysses is not “essentially” either; it is not “essentially” anything but a novel. (CW 29, 21)