Friday, August 16, 2002
EN VACANCES ... :
SullyWatch has this much in common with Sullivan: This evening, we are going on vacation, to a place with some similiarities to that in which The Blog Queen has decided to toss his hammock.
What this basically means is that we�re not going to be at the same place from whence we usually blog. We might be able to do something ... we�ll see.
But, if not, see you all in a week or so.
Ugh. Devoting that much space to Camille Paglia has made us miss Sully, terribly enough to say.
It seems that only Sully could possibly appreciate this politico-culturo-socio-performance artist anymore, a decade after her original flareup (a decade during which, it has been noted, she has never produced the sequel to Sexual Personae that she has long promised).
Having first gained fame as an anti-PC, somewhat independent counterweight to then-supposedly dominant academic orthodoxies, she has since degenerated into a slave of the moment, with a somewhat desperate contrarian streak. Everyone else likes Seinfeld? She hates it. The Sopranos, a show whose characters nicely fall into line with her gender archetypes? God, it makes her Italian blood boil! (and we have Atrios to thank for noticing this slur against Italians and her decided non-reaction).
So, we've got an assignment for everyone, any journalist willing to take it on, that somehow no one�s thought to do with Ms. Paglia.
She has long claimed her estrangement from the feminist movement began during her days at Yale, when someone else in a feminist group she was in denounced the Rolling Stones as incorrigibly sexist (which Camille, �Brown Sugar� notwithstanding, couldn�t seem to fathom). That, and her dislike of post-structuralism at a time when it was gaining wildly in popularity, led her to go languish at the tiny Philadelphia College of the Arts for years, until suddenly emerging with the first half of her expanded dissertation to great media exposure around 1990 or so.
But how come no one�s challenged her on this? She seems to us to be somewhat vague about what went on at Yale. It shouldn�t be too hard to find her fellow grad students at the time and ask them what she was like back then ... and wha really happened.
We smell a carefully-created personal myth ready to be imploded.
posted by Sully 8/16/2002 01:44:00 PM
YANKEE DOODLE WENT TO TOWN, A-WRITING AS A PHONY ...:
There is a story that, in the aftermath of Hitler's invasion of Poland, a shattered and sick Chamberlain gave his somewhat tepid speech to the Commons on the affair. When he was done, a member of the opposition naturally rose to give his response.
�Speaking for the Labor Party ..." he began, but was quickly cut off by an impatient, crusty old Tory voice from the backbenches: �Speak for England!!" (No, it wasn't Churchill).
We relate this anecdote not just to show that we, too, can use the rich ancedotal history of the British Parliament to make our point, nor just because it's a great story, but also because Smalltown Boy�s latest Sunday Times column had rather the reverse effect on us.
He addresses the purported American impatience with European skepticism about the coming war with Iraq ... well, the Bush administration's coming war with Iraq, anyway.
And he manages to outdo most of his previous entries in the �I�m a true redblooded Amurkin� category. This is the sort of ugly Americanism that would make Lee Greenwood look into getting a Canadian passport.
We almost don�t know where to begin. It�s not the first time Sullivan has made the truth squeal like a pig, but it�s definitely the worst.
Firstly, if Sully weren�t on vacation he might have had take Anne Applebaum�s Slate column into consideration.
Or maybe he wouldn�t, since she�s one of those people who only exist and are praised when they write something supporting his point. But she makes some good points about the more practical roots of European opposition:
The left-leaning British Guardian, which might be expected to dislike the idea of a war, has this morning attacked it not on practical or theoretical grounds, but because "no coherent military or political strategy to oust Saddam Hussein has been presented to Downing Street, even though Britain is supposedly the closest ally of George Bush." The equally left-leaning Le Monde�another obvious opponent�last week held back from actual condemnation of the attack, arguing instead that President Bush has not yet "presented evidence of Iraqi wrongdoing sufficient to justify something so serious as a war against an Arab state."
Not everybody opposes the invasion in principle, in other words: What they don't like is not being told if or why it might happen. And what they really don't like is the Bush administration's distance from the entire debate.
Compare with Sully�s take on the Guardian�s opposition:
It simply isn't news that the Guardian opposes the use of arms to pre-empt the re-emergence of one of the most evil and dangerous regimes in the world
Nor is she as pessimistic as Sully on European support for the war:
So why doesn't the defense secretary�along with the American president, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and everybody else�take the argument out of the corridors of the White House, and throw it open to the world? Almost every time Rumsfeld speaks, he appears on the BBC, on Rai Uno, on news programs in Europe and Asia and Africa. If he took the trouble to describe the smoking gun, bit of paper, satellite photograph, or intelligence report that has convinced him and the rest of the administration of the need for "regime change" in Iraq, I am convinced that support would follow, not just in the United States but the rest of the world.
Reading today, after Norman Schwarzkopf and Brent Scowcroft BOTH have poured cold water on the idea, one is really struck even more by Sullivan�s column.
Had he ended it with the first graf, he might have gotten away looking merely pretentious (does his copy put anyone else in mind of a failed opening crawl for a Star Wars sequel?) but reasonably within the limits of accuracy.
Then we get a rare opportunity to watch intellectual train wreck that is Andrew Sullivan unfold in sickly fascinating slow motion.
First, he mocks Europe�s military might terribly (would he prefer, one wonders, the Wehrmacht back in action?), carefully exempting his native Britain (but wait a little while on that one).
Then he has the nerve to presume to speak for all of us over here:
An average, bewildered American therefore feels like asking of nervous Europeans: just what about September 11 do you not understand?
For the record, we don�t feel bewildered. And we most definitely do not want this warm-beer import speaking for us.
Then he says �It was once impossible to conceive that radical terrorists could acquire the capacity to destroy an entire city like New York or Rome.�
How long ago is he speaking of? In 1983, U2 was singing, in its nuclear-anxiety song �Seconds�:
An apartment in Times Square,
You can assemble them anywhere.
Held to ransom, held to pay,
A revolution every day.
If a then-up-and-coming Irish rock quartet figured it out back then, we sure think that the Herman Kahns of the world were into it long before that (and actually, we'd like to steer Sullivan�s attention back to the James Bond films � and novels, particularly Thunderball).
And what does it mean when he writes about Saddam �acquirring� weapons of mass destruction? That Andrew Sullivan could use a copy editor?
After this comic interlude, though, it keeps getting worse. After citing the sort of circumstantial evidence which wouldn�t, we suspect, even satisfy John Ashcroft�s standards of probable cause, he resorts (as he always does) to waving the bloody shirt ... in this case referring to �the mass grave of 3,000 Americans in the middle of New York City."
This one stretches tolerance even for one accustomed to Sully�s histrionics.
First off, uh, it wasn�t three thousand (the exact count is 2,823, not including Atta & Co.).
OK, he rounded up, but that doesn't excuse the second point, which is: not all of those killed in the crash and collapse of the World Trade Center were Americans. There were Canadians, Russians, Israelis, Indians, and ... dare we say it, quite a few of his fellow Brits. In fact, more Britons died in this than in any other terrorist attack, anywhere, ever (yes, even more than Pan Am 103).
Sully could actually use this as the base of a better argument to Europeans, but it's very telling that he doesn't.
We would also ask: just what about the Pentagon, too? Didn�t some people die there? Or do the �sons and daughters� of Americans, serving in uniform, that he speaks of so softly a few grafs earlier not count?
Then the comic relief of �moraly� returns.
Unfortunately, so does either the hyperbole or someone with inside info on Al-Qaeda so extensive he should be getting strung up in Gitmo.
If it were not for America, al Qaeda, with support from Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Hamas, would still be ensconced in Afghanistan, planning new and more deadly attacks against the West. If it weren't for America, it is a virtual certainty that London and Paris would have by now experienced similarly catastrophic events as September 11.
How does he know this for sure? It's true that a plot to suicide bomb the US embassy in Paris was in its advanced stages when (take note here) French and Belgian police, who had had their eye on it for some time, broke it up shortly after 9/11. And that would probably have been the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe had it gone off in March. But it would not quite have killed as many people, nor affected Paris as profoundly as New York has been.
If it weren't for America, militarized fundamentalist Islam would, with the help of millions of Islamist immigrants, be gaining even more strength in Continental Europe.
So now we�re sounding like Le Pen, Haider or the Danish People�s Party? Take note that �Islamist� isn�t even a religious term, it refers to a politico-religious point of view. Is Sully that sure that all the Muslim immigrants to Europe are undercover Taliban? And doesn�t he sound somewhat regretful that he had to grow up and move away from South Goodstone before he could become a proper football hooligan?
And then ... like quoting National Review (which, come to think of it, should come into a little criticism from Sully over rehiring Ann Coulter) is so representative of mainstream American political opinion?
Hanson, by the way, is wrong when he says �Our government has executed terrorists; yours have freed them.� Does the name Orlando Bosch mean anything to him?
We�d next like to add that calling anti-Semitism �Europe's indigenous form of hate� is the sort of statement that, in most contexts, is considered racist.
And so Le Pen finishing second is such a bad thing now that we need to spend three or four grafs painting all Europeans as people who have nothing better to do than plan new concentration camps? Where was the Sully who so bravely, several months ago, pointed to Le Pen�s opposition to the EU and its (in France anyway) much-despised new currency as the reason he was getting so much support?
Finally, he concedes at least the moral ground behind European arguments ... the EU, after all, has led to former rival superpowers France and Germany making nice (well, sort of) for a while. But then:
The only reason the E.U. can exist at all is because American military force defeated Nazi Germany. The only reason why all of Germany is now included in the E.U. is because American military force defeated the Soviet Union.
Ahem. We�re American and we have a problem with this.
American military force defeated Nazi Germany? OK, but who held it at bay, at great risk and sacrifice, for two years while isolationism ruled on this side of the Atlantic? Yup, good old Albion! Nice of Sully to erase his despised homeland from this version of history.
And is it arguable that American military force defeated the USSR? Perhaps in the sense that the threat of American force helped oust the Soviets. But what Germans should really thank their freedom for is empty supermarket shelves in Chelyabinsk and vodka bottles in Kemerovo. We don�t know what the results of such a war would have been because it we never had to fight it, thankfully.
As he winds up, there are some startling admissions. The EU is hailed as a genuine �political achievement.� There are legitimate questions about the Iraq war (though, once again tellingly, he elides the Kurdish question, something Europeans, whose countries have been home to many exiled Kurds, do not have the luxury of doing).
But overall, even we have to wonder who really needs to grow up. The sweeping generalizations. The projected self-loathing. The sloppy historical detail. It's all there in one hyperbloviated column.
Our colleagues over at Smarter Andrew Sullivan make their first post-sabbatical salvo with some informed speculation as to whether Sullivan may be (as one could also infer from his infamous NYTMag piece) abusing his testosterone.
SO HOWELL HATES GEORGE ... HUH?:
Media Whores Online once again comes through with an interesting link.
It seems that in a recent story about a presidential campaign swing through the Midwest, the Times described Iowa as a state Bush won.
In fact, he lost the state by 4,000 votes.
Will Smalltown Boy factor this in when he next writes about Raines v. Bush? This certainly seems bound at least turn up as another one of the Times� more embarrassing recent corrections (we�ll see if Mickey Kaus takes note of this one when it runs, too).
Probably not, though, because the Times is more like Sully than he wants to realize: They pulled a mulligan!
MWO checked the NYT story, and the text after "Iowa" in Ms. Hessert's quote was missing.
Did the NYT attempt to rewrite history and award Iowa to Bush? It wouldn't surprise us in the least, as the Times still has not corrected its false and outrageous November 12 headline: "EXAMINING THE VOTE: THE OVERVIEW; Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote."
In fact, it was proven the Supreme Court did, without question, cast the deciding vote in Election 2000, as Al Gore would have won under every scenario for counting both overvotes and undervotes - a fact admitted deep in the Times's own story.
posted by Sully 8/16/2002 01:56:00 AM
Tuesday, August 13, 2002
ANON AND ON:
Steven Den Beste recently started a storm up with a long post criticizing anonymous bloggers (most of whom just happen to be of the liberal persuasion).
Obviously, like Atrios, Hesiod, Demosthenes and our fellow metablogger InstapunditWatch, among others, our interest in this is more than theoretical.
Den Beste is laboring under the same misapprehension as Jennifer Liberto � that anonymity deprives the reader of the chance to assess the reliability of one's information.
That was immediately and mightily disproved by many of the responses, who noted that Media Whores Online�s unknown author or author(s) get their information strictly from reading the web and linking to their sources. Anyone reading MWO can thus gauge their credibility. They do not regularly pretend to have inside access to something the average news consumer does not.
We mention MWO not just because, of course, we�re fans, but more importantly because it was the most direct inspiration for this site. So we have many of the same reasons they might for keeping the cloaking device on, most importantly the one cited by Hesiod at the very end of his post.
In fact, we think we'll go a little further in explaining ourselves because we think the Horse would say the same things.
The decision to keep this blog anonymous was one of the first we made.
It has largely to do with the nature of Sullivan, our primary concern. Smalltown Boy is all over the place in his blog. Readers know not only of his political opinions, but of his personal life and interests as well (though only what he wants you to.) � the beagles, the mindless circumscision-bashing etc. This is as narcissistic and solipsistic as it gets.
So how could one best contrast to that? How about a completely dry, just-the-facts, il n�y a rien hors de texte blog?
We made the decision that there would be no mention of our offline lives in this blog, no references to our tastes, hobbies and interests, to stand in stark contrast with the Blog Queen. So far we feel we�ve been successful, for the most part.
And thereby achieve an equal footing we could not get if our identities were known quantities. Sullivan, after all, has a brand name that predates blogging � he's been editor of the New Republic most famously. Whereas the typical blogger was and usually remains a complete unknown.
And is often discounted as such. Dirty little secret here: the cart comes before the horse, even in Blogistan. Sullivan isn't just nonymous ... he�s (can we coin a word here?) supranonymous. Which has the practical effect of insulating him from the degree of scrutiny his work would get if (as it increasingly appears to be) it were written by a college freshman, both on- and offline.
We're sure the Washington-insiders who desperately want to know who�s behind MWO only want to do so to find some way to use the person�s real identity/ies to pigeonhole them and their criticism of the Bush regime, regardless of it being based on stories available to the public mostly. In Washington media circles, status often trumps reliability, to the nation's detriment.
By pretending to have no offline life, we and MWO (no, conspiracy theorists, we are not one and the same, nor are we even the same) force you to concentrate on what we have to say and not where we might have worked, where we went to school or didn't go to school. Just what we have to say about Sully, and whether we're right or he's right (HAH!).
So, anonymity is not only preferable but (we think) essential when going up against Sullivan.
posted by Sully 8/13/2002 01:32:00 AM
Sunday, August 11, 2002
One thing we wanted to do now we can: pass along some links from our readers that we'd wished we'd had in the past:
First, Jeff Mauro sends along the story about the Iraqi National Congress�s financial wizardry.
Here's Michelangelo Signorile�s column on the risks of HIV reinfection through barebacking.
And lastly Jeff Hauser makes some points about Sully�s fixation on Iraq as the source of all evil (hey, at least one advantage of taking this vacation � we don't have to hear him suddenly focus on Saudi Arabia)
posted by Sully 8/11/2002 01:20:00 AM