"You're a funny man, Sully ...

that's why I'm going to kill you last."


Saturday, July 19, 2003


We meant to blog this piece from yesterday�s Times op-ed page because its points about establishing democracy in Iran are equally valid for Iraq:

But while the waves of protests and arrests � the latest came last week outside a Tehran university � may indicate the inevitable collapse of the Islamic Republic, what student leaders are calling for in Iran does not correspond with the administration's designs for the region.

The president has interpreted the current situation in Iran as a conflict between Islamic theocracy and the kind of Western secular democracy his administration envisions for Iraq. But that is not at all how most Iranians see it. Over the past two decades, academics, reformist theologians and liberal clerics in Iran have been struggling to redefine traditional Islamic political philosophy in order to bring it in line with modern concepts of representative government, popular sovereignty, universal suffrage and religious pluralism. What these Iranians have been working toward is �Islamic democracy�: that is, a liberal, democratic society founded on an Islamic moral framework.

This is not theocracy; it is religious democracy. And while that may seem like an oxymoron to most Americans, it is in no way a new paradigm: the Jewish version of this ideal currently exists in Israel. Indeed, it could be argued that the United States itself began as a religious democracy founded on a Protestant moral framework that still plays an influential role in our laws and politics.


But if there is any lesson to be learned from Iraq, it is that the American model of democracy is not necessarily applicable to the peoples of the Middle East, nor should it be.

The fact is that �democracy� is a contested term with no universally accepted definition; the notion that it must be based on secularism is not only a new concept, but a distinctly Western one. The conviction among many in the United States that a secular, democratic Iraq (if that itself is a possibility) can somehow become the model of democracy in the Middle East is both unreasonable and unfounded.

Recall that when the British and French colonized the Middle East, they did so in the guise of a civilizing mission. The idea was to transplant Western principles of government and society � ideals that took hundreds of years to develop in Europe � to uncivilized lands. However, no attempt was made to incorporate the cultural and religious identities of these regions. As a result, rather than embracing these ideals, the colonized peoples lashed out violently against them and reverted to a fundamentalist doctrine that rejected the West and everything it stood for.

What the United States must learn from the colonialist experience is that the only way to promote lasting democratic reform in the Middle East is to encourage it to develop according to its own indigenous culture and its own religious identity. That is precisely what reformists are trying to do in Iran, and rather than being feared or isolated, they should be supported.

posted by Sully 7/19/2003 10:23:00 AM


We gave Sullivan all day, but he said not a peep on the latest outrageous episode of conservatives using someone�s homosexuality to impugn them.

Of course, this one must present quite a conundrum for the Blog Queen, as his great and good friend Matt Drudge was directly involved, as, apparently, was the same White House he wanted to speak up more clearly on Santorum.

As you all may know by now, an ABC News correspondent in Iraq named Jeffrey Kofman reported recently on plummeting troop morale among members of the Third Infantry Division in Fallujah (thanks Steve Messina for the link). Seems they�re pissed that a) they're doing the peacekeeping job they were never trained for and b) they keep getting told they�re about to go home, but they aren�t. They had some choice words for their civilian bosses, and one of them suggested Donald Rumsfeld ought to resign.

Although other grousing has been reported, in the U.S. media (which, we think, has generally suppressed the strongly negative reaction among the troops to �bring it on�), none of it has made the network news. So they�ve already been good and punished for their insolence, but that wasn�t enough. Apparently someone at the White House felt that they had to show the media who was boss (because hey, if you can blow a CIA agent�s cover just to spite her husband for admitting he was the former ambassador who did the Niger report, anything�s possible), seeing as there�s a new sheriff in that particular town. So someone got in touchwith Drudge and tipped him off that not only was Kofman openly gay (a sensitive area for Drudge, as we know) he�s ... Canadian! Take off! No way eh? Pink and red!

So, obviously, how could he possibly be objective? He just wants to hurt America, right? We know all we need to know in those two things.

Sullivan must have been somewhere in his beach cottage all day doing the human version of The Blue Screen of Death. This is the sort of right-wing homophobic effusion the world looks to him to speak up against, and more than enough left-liberal bloggers have already run interference for him, so he should have no problem, but doing so would mean hanging Drudge out to dry.

So, as usual, he studiously avoids discussing politics, aping his Lego-fetish of last year during the brief Harken frenzy by earnestly discussing the mechanics of crucifixion due to a passing reference to Mel Gibson�s forthcoming Jesus movie, sounding like some sort of S&M parody of a Catholic blog.

posted by Sully 7/19/2003 10:12:00 AM

Friday, July 18, 2003


Tom speculates on the identity of the lesbian emailer, and comments on the Blair posts and how they overfulfilled his expectations.

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 05:54:00 PM


Eric Alterman surprises us by giving Sullivan a good kick in the shins in response to his attack on Alterman over French antisemitism (Slacker Friday our butts!). It�s worth reprinting at some length here:

Nobody fully comprehends his or her own motivations, but sometimes I think a small part of me writes an item to give my fellow Hebraic blogger Andrew �Nudnik� Sullivanowitz a chance to demonstrate to all his fellow landsmen what a mensch he is. Apparently a bit miffed that he was passed over by the national Hadassah meeting again despite his famous eagerness to discuss his bathroom activities � and believe me, I don�t understand it either; my bubbe was a sucker for good toilet talk � Sullolovich has taken to proving his naches by finding anti-Semitism where even Abe Rosenthal would have cried �gevalt� into his gefilte fish.

Take me, for instance. I am accused by the new chief rabbi of occupied P-Town of writing that �rising French anti-Semitism should be dismissed, and, if anything, blamed on the Jews� and for �pin[ning] the blame for it on Ariel Sharon,� which Sullovsky finds �truly disgusting� and �even more disgusting.� Soon, he predicts that I will cite �attacks on Jewish cemeteries or synagogues as George W. Bush�s fault.�


Here�s a quick history lesson for Andy and his many ill-spelling acolytes who�ve been filling my in-box (it will have to be quick because I usually get paid for this kind of thing, and well, you know�.): The Israeli occupation of the West Bank started under a Labor government and was consistently expanded by all major parties, including Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, right through the end of the Oslo peace process. It was not invented by Ariel Sharon, nor is it even historically associated with the Likud Party.

Now, about this �blame� issue. Did I blame anyone, outside (obviously) of the people who committed the crimes? Nope again, as I explained yesterday. I spoke to what I understand to be the sources of Muslim anger. Is it anti-Semitic to point out that the followers of Osama bin Laden are not so crazy about the Israeli occupation, and maybe that has something to do with why they hate the U.S. so much? By this logic it is, and so everyone willing to recognize that the Arab-Israeli conflict has anything to do with our problem with Islamic terrorism is also �blaming the victim� � and by Sullskowitz�s definition, an anti-Semite. Sorry, Prime Minister Blair. Sorry, Secretary Powell.

Did I deny the existence of French anti-Semitism? Nope again. I said it has always been a problem, but my impression is that it has lessened in recent years. What else? Oh yeah, those imaginary attacks on Jewish cemeteries and synagogues that Sullenbaum says I will blame on George W. Bush once they start taking place. Well, he�s got me there. I�m a pre-cog. Why not just take me away, Mr. Ashcroft, and send me to Gitmo?... No wait. I�ve got a better idea. Take the Sullentashen instead? Yeah, that�s the ticket. The boychick simply hates the Chosen People. Why else would he be encouraging your (mutual) buddy George W. to push them to act against their own interest in Israel? Is this the real source of his devotion to the man? After all, it can�t be for W�s feelings about what my beloved Bubbe, may she rest in peace, used to call fagelas. (�An openly known homosexual is somebody who probably wouldn�t share my philosophy.�)

Eric, baby, we didn�t think you had it in you. Mazel Tov!

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 05:49:00 PM


Also in the Times this morning we read Krugman�s column, about the Bush Administration�s dodginess on matters economic, with this little aside:

But even the usual apologists (well, some of them) are starting to acknowledge the administration�s irresponsibility. Will they also face up to its dishonesty?

Hmm. Just who could The Krugster be referring to here? To strengthen the hint, notice his use of �irresponsibility.� Children, do we know someone who uses that word a lot more lately when discussing Bush�s fiscal policy?

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 11:51:00 AM


One of the virtues of sitting down with the print version of the Times is that you catch stories like this, a wire item thoughtfully buried at the bottom of page A6.

French neo-Nazis formed an alliance with militant Jewish groups on the Internet to publish a torrent of hate messages directed against Arabs and Muslims, according to a report by a leading antiracist group. Members of far-right groups were prepared to set aside their anti-Semitic feelings to share Web space and expertise with the pro-Israeli campaigners during the rise in violence in the Middle East, the study found.

Here�s the full report

The report said between 2001 and 2003, the groups sent a thousand messages a day, including incitements to attack mosques in the hope of triggering civil war between Arabs and other French.

They also included messages calling for the assassination of President Jacques Chirac, ironically referred to as Ben Shirak, whom extremists accused of handing power to Muslim interests.

Yup, those North African immigrants really have France as their oyster.

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 11:45:00 AM


Jesse similarly notes the tenativeness and weakness of the Journal editorial.

Here�s the first problem: All this report says is that the NIE claimed this. Not what the claims were based on (perhaps those forged documents, since no other forms of intelligence on which to base this claim have been released?), not when the claims were made, not who actually made them ... just that the claims were made.

The exact same information keeps getting thrown up in �new and different� ways in order to try and throw critics off-balance ... but it�s the exact same stuff! Yes, the NIE claimed that Iraq was trying to procure uranium from Niger. But, so far as we know, it was based on two things: forged documents and Britain�s say-so. One of those is disproven, and the other isn�t worth the electronic print it takes to relay it without proof.

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 09:37:00 AM


Jim Capozzola takes note of out observation that Sullivan seems to have put the onus of his firing on his friend Adam Moss, editor of the Times Magazine, and adds:

I grant you, Sullivan never worked for former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines in the sense that he, Sullivan, never reported for work at the Times Building on a daily basis � that�s a privilege reserved for real journalists, of which Sullivan is surely not one.


Capozzola also added to an otherwise unrelated post his interpretation of the spelling errors and typos we�ve recently noted. �SullyWatch,� he says, �reports, perhaps without realizing it, that the PofP is once again blogging while high.�

Well, here�s more grist for that mill ...

Youwon'tget this on the BBC, so here goes

[sucking sound]

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 09:26:00 AM


In his generally-boilerplate three-part swoon on Blair�s speech (ably predicted by TBogg), Sullivan repeats his line that:

When the consequences of negligence become catastrophic, the equation of intervention changes. The burden of proof must be on those who counsel inaction rather than on those who urge an offensive, proactive battle.

Well, as he well ought to know, this is a nigh impossible standard, as demonstrated not just in theory but in practice. In the former department, he�s basically asking to prove a negative. In the latter, well, with US troops having free reign over Iraq for at least a couple months now and not having found much that withstood serious scrutiny, what more could you want? At what point will you give up and admit we overreacted?

And it�s not so simple as this. Before the war, we also pointed out the downside risks of this ... a loss to U.S. credibility if no weapons of mass destruction were found, U.S. troops trying to keep their morale up while subduing an angry and resentful population ... and were pithily dismissed as �objectively pro-Saddam.� Now the hawks are having to admit those are real issues.

But the underlying problem with this remains: this is basically a rationale for striking out blindly and recklessly, and those actions do not come without consequence.

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 09:14:00 AM


Jo also goes after Mark Steyn:

Here�s the obvious difference, your majesty, none of that was ever in the State of the Union address. Clinton never tried to get anyone to take a fall the way George Tenet has over the Sudanese Aspirin Factory. If your deserter-boy war-hero-in-his-own-mind could take responsibility for even one thing in his life that was adverse besides his failed Yale education you would have three solid months of material to blog, because that would be a major news event.

They spent $70MM to go after Clinton your highness and came up with nothing that was worth that much ... and you helped stoke the fires. The Leader of the Axis Weasels, the myopic boy king, is threatened with questions about any facts and you just can�t stand it Sully, because the answers might lead where you don�t want to go. As David Ehrenstein once pointed out, you are fully supportive not of a right to privacy for those you scorn, but a �right to secrecy� whether for yourself or the mediocre hacks you worship and sell yourself for.

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 09:04:00 AM


Jo Fish reminds Sullivan to keep up to date on the effect of intellectual-property suits on the names of certain sports-entertainment organizations.

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 09:01:00 AM


Not wanting to support the Journal�s famously loony editorial pages (as we�ve said before, there is a blog niche just waiting for someone willing to spend an hour or so each day monitoring it as we do to Sully) with a subscription, we trekked out and plunked down a dollar on the print edition so we could read this vaunted editorial about the NIE.

Well. It ain�t all that and potato chips, that�s for sure.

First, something you won�t be able to really tell online: It's the bottom of three editorials. It is preceded by two concerning domestic issues that might be best summed up in one smirky sentence, � la D-Squared�s Shorter Stephen den Beste series, or more recently Elton Beard�s short takes (There really ought to be a name for this emerging technique, which we ourselves used recently on the USA Today article about how just peachy keen everything was getting in Kabul. Hey, if conservative bloggers can create �fisking� from line-by-line rebuttals, we to the left ought to get credit for this. Any suggestions?).

�President George W. Kennedy?�: President Bush ought to get serious about what he (and we) wants in Medicare reform and stop letting Ted Kennedy yank his dick around the table.

�Fannie and Freddie Send Their Regrets�: FNMA and FHLMC blew off a House hearing because they�re bad apples. Their executives should be subpoenaed as payback.

Now you come to the stunningly imaginative title �Yellowcake Remix,� which sounds like a 12-inch until you realize they�re thinking more along Betty Crocker lines.

We emphasize this positioning because anyone familiar with Bartley�s Bowsers knows that if they know they have a real scoop, it�s the lead editorial. That it isn�t suggests the editorial staff is as dubious about this as the CIA was.

And the editorial itself backs this presumption up (Contrary to Sully, it was not �uncovered� by the Journal; as he should well know, this was leaked as spin. The proper terminology, as The New Republic reported during his tutelage, is �provided to.�)

A close reading, a/k/a fisking, will show just how wispy this really is.

One of the mysteries of the recent yellowcake uranium flap is why the White House has been so defensive about an intelligence judgement we don�t yet know to be false ...

Allow us to suggest a staggering possibility that may not otherwise have occurred to them: the Bushies are lying and they know it. Were Clinton in office, they would have reached this judgement in a heartbeat.

We�re reliably told that the now famous NIE ... isn�t nearly as full of doubt about that yellowcake as the critics assert ...

In other words, contrary to the claim made by Sully and by the editors themselves in the opening graf, they haven�t actually seen the NIE, just (we�d guess) faxed excerpts from whoever is spinning here.

And who might that be? The next line suggests it�s from the White House, contrary to what they claim.

... or as even CIA director George Tenet has suggested.

NSC maybe?

The section on Iraq�s hunt for uranium, for example, bluntly asserts that �Iraq also began vigorously trying to secure uranium ore and yellowcake� and that �acquiring either would greatly shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons.�

Well, duh! As if there are any other ways to get fissionable material. The NIE�s drafter here is gently stating the obvious as part of his or her job; the Journal thinks it�s some great and terrifying insight. What next? �Acquiring either wood or paper would greatly shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce large bonfires.�

The Journal gives great weight to the British standing by their report, mockingly referring to the Niger claims as �supposedly discredited� (as if obviously forged documents weren�t enough?) But, of course, they don�t go on to say that the British haven�t disclosed their source, and some have speculated that they learned it from ... us.

Is it possible, just possible, that this is the case and Tenet knows this?

We are told that Saddam has also supposedly sought uranium from Somalia and Congo. Yeah, just the place to go for a highly dangerous mining operation ... two countries riven by civil war (of course, they have far less controls than Niger, so you could keep it off the radar. And the best data we think we could get, at the UN, doesn�t seem to show those countries as big players in the field (Somalia�s uranium deposits are described as largely undeveloped and Congo seems to have a nice relationship with another member of the Axis of Evil.

Again the editorial continues with language notable for the hedges the editors use, unusal by their standards and indicative of a inner conflict. They call the White House treatment of the issue�ham-handed.� They again say, �we are told language identical to what was in the NIE is in what the CIA presented to the White House last January ...� They openly acknowledge that there�s a matter of interpretation involved. They remind us to keep in mind that NIEs are consensus documents. They suggest that Bush�s critics are holding to a courtroom�s standard of proof (not true ... we�d have been satisfied with the Niger documents if they�d reflected real familiarity with uranium mining there.

Finally they lean on weasel phrases like �the larger truth� and �it was the general consensus� with the backing beat of: listen, since he�d used chemical weapons before, he must have had something brewing (We like the phrase �Multiple U.N. resolutions asserted the same thing.� Funny how convenient the U.N. is for neocons when it backs up theirr arguments!

The last sentence pleads for a public release so the American people can make up their own minds. So the Journal�s editors, usually so sure of themselves on everything from soup to nuts, dpon�t feel based on what they know that they can confidently browbeat the reading public as they had in the past.

That�s telling. Very telling.

posted by Sully 7/18/2003 01:31:00 AM

Thursday, July 17, 2003


We had assumed that Richard Ingrams� remarks were as churlish as they sounded in Sully�s excerpts, so we felt it would be a waste of time and our reputation to defend them.

Well, confronted with a brief surplus of time, we lazily clicked on over.

Guess what? As usual there is a missing context.

You would think that Ingrams devoted an entire column to his idea.

First, his Observer column this week.

This is the third of three items.

I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it.

Too few people in this modern world are prepared to declare an interest when it comes to this kind of thing. It would be enormously helpful, for example, if those clerics and journalists who have been defending Canon Jeffrey John, the so-called gay bishop, were to tell us whether they themselves are gay. Some do, but more don�t.

OK, this makes it even worse. It sure fits with a man whose picture with the column suggests a deep-seated aversion to sobriety.

But he had something specific in mind that Sullivan didn�t tell you about.

The other day, for example, the Canadian journalist Barbara Amiel wrote a long denunciation of the BBC in the Daily Telegraph, accusing the Corporation of being anti-Israel in its Middle East coverage.

Many readers of the Daily Telegraph may have been impressed by her arguments, assuming her to be just another journalist or even, as she was recently described in another newspaper, an �international-affairs commentator.�

They might have been less impressed if the paper had told them that Barbara Amiel is not only Jewish but that her husband�s company, in which she has an interest, owns not only the Daily Telegraph but the Jerusalem Post.

OK, so he still comes off as a bigot. But that bigotry doesn�t detract from his point, either, at least on the face of the information presented.

And in the older column, Ingrams is mainly arguing against a then-proposed law that would require journalists to disclose financial interests in companies they write about. The quoted graf was just one aside in the whole thing (and at the time, it could have looked satiric. In the context of the later column, where Ms. Amiel�s financial interest is relevant but her Judaism is not, it no longer does).

posted by Sully 7/17/2003 04:24:00 PM


There is a big difference between mistaken intelligence that leads us to launch one-off missile attacks on countries, and deliberately using highly doubtful intelligence to get thousands of American troops into a war whose subsequent occupation leaves no easy way out.

When the chickenhawks start using �Clinton did it too,� we may justifiably conclude that it�s all over except for the shouting, which of course never ends.

(We are also preparing a piece on the WSJ editorial Sully linked to earlier today. Suffice it to say it�s hardly as authoritative as he�d like it to be).

posted by Sully 7/17/2003 04:06:00 PM


It almost past unnoted if we hadn�t scrolled down after reading an item Roger Ailes had linked to concerning Tucker Carlson�s upcoming book, but The Washington Times, for which Sully contributes a weekly recycling of his blog items of choice, got taken big-time, publishing a letter attacking the State Department bureaucrats which purported to be from a U.S. ambassador but was, in fact, written with a spoofed email address.

Why didn�t anyone bother to check that the writer of the letter was who he claimed to be? Isn�t it standard practice to call letter writers and confirm that they wrote the letter? Whjy else do they ask you for your phone number?

Sully won�t be asking these questions, we think.

posted by Sully 7/17/2003 10:19:00 AM


Sullivan approvingly quotes Krauthammer as saying, among other things, that since Clinton left office, �... we�re removing our troops from Saudi Arabia.�

Correct us if we�re wrong, but wasn�t the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia one of Osama bin Laden�s chief bugaboos? If so, why is caving in to the demands of a terrorist mastermind behind the deaths of over 2,500 on American soil a good thing?

posted by Sully 7/17/2003 10:09:00 AM


As one might expect, Sully makes a couple of assertions there that should be backed up with at least links as if they were as self-evident as the sun rising in the east every morning.

Perhaps he didn�t read the Vanity Fair piece on French antisemitism of a couple months back that makes entirely the same point: it's largely Arab immigrants victimizing Sephardic Jewish immigrants from the same North African countries (in fact, it depends on a lot of the same sources as the Post story). Which does not make it any less deplorable, but it puts a lot of perspective on the Mighty Wurlitzer�s all-encompassing use of the term �French antisemitism� to suggest that current affairs in France are of a piece with the Dreyfus affair, Vichy and Drancy (and if you want to use the Holocaust as a stick to beat the French with, consider that France was able to save 75 percent of its prewar Jewish population ... whereas the Netherlands, far more collaborationist than it likes to admit, lost about 75 percent of its prewar Jewish population (including Anne Frank and Etty Hillesum) to the death camps).

But don�t take it from us, or Alterman. Take it from the Post itself.

Most of the perpetrators are not the ultra-rightists and neo-Nazis who once were responsible for anti-Semitic acts, but young North African Arabs of the banlieues, the distant blue-collar suburbs where Muslims and Jews live and work in close proximity. Many of the victims are Sephardic Jews who themselves originally came from North Africa.


Many are teenagers who live in the bleak high-rise public housing complexes that dot the outskirts of Paris. They are often bored at school or unemployed, and seek to emulate what they see on TV networks such as al-Jazeera, he says. They often engage in spontaneous assaults or in gang activities, such as coordinated attacks on Jewish students.


Said Ait Mouhoub, leader of the North African Association of Noisy-le-Sec, a Paris suburb, says that for many years France ignored the plight of Muslim youths. Unemployment was high, religious and recreational activities were rare. The new intifada, he says, has given them a sense of purpose. �At first it was maybe just a game � they threw rocks because they saw Palestinians throwing rocks on television,� Mouhoub said. �And after it became more political. They wanted to take a stand.�

Mouhoub says his officially sanctioned organization has worked hard to combat Islamic extremism and channel young energies into constructive ventures. But he confesses that it's an uphill battle. �For these kids, television is enormous,� he says. �It conditions their minds. Before, they had respect for their parents and their roots. Now with this new generation, the respect is gone. The roots are cut.�

Oh, and to suggest it�s �blind� that the Israeli situation has something to do with this:

The number of incidents appears to spike depending on events in Israel and the Middle East � there were sharp rises in the spring of 2002 when Israeli forces reoccupied West Bank cities and again this year when the United States invaded Iraq.

To be fair, just as with its predecessor in Vanity Fair, the article does point out the rather tepid response from French authorities, until recently. But that was acknowledged by Alterman as well, who noted that the European French are still somewhat �mildly antisemitic.�

So, if Sully has some bones to pick here, he should take it up not with Alterman but the Post.

posted by Sully 7/17/2003 10:05:00 AM

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


My analysis of the current campaign to impugn the war against Saddam on the WMD issue is that it will fizzle out fast. My prediction is that it will boomerang against those who are busiest hyping it.

As if he would have ever come to any other conclusion ...

Seriously, it�s fun seeing him trot this one out a month or so after he appeared to have mothballed it. It�s in even worse shape now. With far more time and control over circumstances than UNMOVIC had, we have actually managed to find less. Yes, documents are being translated but if the best they can muster is statements of intent (again unsurprising, but hardly justification for going to war so urgently), it�s beside the point. Politically the damage has been done.

Sullivan might also want to reconsider making this a prediction, given his record of telling us things like how Pim Fortuyn�s movement would take Europe by storm ... today, it�s but a footnote in Dutch political history.

posted by Sully 7/16/2003 05:25:00 PM


What, exactly, is �higlighting�? Or a �consrvative�?

posted by Sully 7/16/2003 12:36:00 PM


As Capozzola notes re Robertson:

No, Andy, you can�t make it up. It�s too scary for make believe. I hope you�re happy. You�re part and parcel of the whole damned scene. This is your mess, not ours.

posted by Sully 7/16/2003 12:35:00 PM


One of the joys of not having the time to blog yesterday was that we could at least sit back and watch our prediction six weeks ago that the rapidly decreasing proportionality of WMDs in Iraq and evidence that the Bush administration exaggerated or outright lied to suggest that there were would reach a tipping point come to pass (UPDATE: It left The Horse, for once, with nothing to say: �The American news media informed the public adequately yesterday. MWO will return tomorrow.�).

Sullivan responded to this as he always has when his hero comes under well-deserved fire: first he ignores it (as MWO put it during the brief string of Harken revelations almost a year ago, he puts his fingers in his ears and goes �La LA LA� loudly), focusing on some other outrage of the moment; then he tries to minimize it.

Even so, his dismissal of Urain�tium (OK, TAPped) as �phony hysteria about a minor CIA goof� has to reach some new low even by the standards of Bush administration apologia.

Phony? The administration itself has admitted the info was dubious and should never have been in the speech in the first place. It takes a real diehard to deny that which even the person or entity you are defending has already conceded. Did any Clinton defenders continue to deny the infamous blow job after Clinton had himself testified to it? That�s pretty much what Sully did by using that word.

Hysteria? See post below about the Times softpedaling this one. And by the way, we�d say that an administration knowingly and willfully using false pretenses to get Americans to go to war is something to be hysterical about, if anything is.

Minor? Wasn�t the idea of preventing a nuclear-armed Saddam a big part of Sullivan�s own selling points for the war? This calls for another waiver of our no-link rule, so we can take yesterday's Blog Queen by the hand and reacquaint him with his contemporary analog.

To British readers, last summer:

When a tyrant like Saddam is doing all he can to acquirre biological, cehmical and nuclear weapons, when he has already invaded a neighboring state, when he has used chemical weapons against his own people, when he is subsidizing terror elsewhere in the Middle East, when he has extensive ties to Islamist terrorist groups around the world, doesn't the benefit of the doubt shift toward those who aim to disarm and dethrone him?

Again, last fall.

[Leftists a]re happy to have Saddam get re-elected with 100 percent of a terrified vote, happy to see him develop nerve gas and nuclear weapons to use against his own population and others

Earlier this year, again in the Times:

Without America, Saddam might be sitting pretty in Saudi Arabia today with an arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

A month ago, on his blog:

Lifting sanctions would have been tanatamount to giving Saddam a chance to become a nuclear and chemical and biological menace. We pursued the only credible policy with regards to national security after 9/11.

By analogy, on the blog around the same time concerning Iran:

If the revolution can happen before the regime acquires nuclear weapons, we have a chance to avert a catastrophe for the West and the people of the Middle East.

There are other examples you can dredge up if you wish. As so many have noted, the fear of Saddam going nuclear (as opposed to, say, the reality of North Korea doing so) was the hawks� tipping point in drumming up support for the war. It was hardly a minor thing.

Nor was it a goof. As Josh Marshall has now ably documented (ADDENDUM: Quiddity Quack has an index), the CIA did not �goof.� It was overruled by someone, either Cheney or Rice it seems, who had more pull. In fact, no one in the administration has suggested the CIA made a mistake in evaluating the intelligence, just that they failed to object strongly enough (the ultimate abdication of personal responsibility, if you ask us). If Sullivan ever had any sources in Langley, he won�t now.

posted by Sully 7/16/2003 12:31:00 PM


I guess I�m lucky I didn't work for Raines. He�d have had me covering hairdressers and musical comedy. And he�d have expected me to be grateful.

First, if he didn�t work for Raines why he is always blaming Raines for firing him? Is he now saying it was his friend Adam Moss�s fault (And you really think they�ll run anything with your name on it again other than your obituary, Andrew? If that ...)

Second, uh, anyone who reads Sullivan even intermittently knows that�s not his gay subculture. C�mon Sully, be honest with yourself and us and at least say �he�d have had me covering bodybuilding and leather competitions.�

posted by Sully 7/16/2003 11:48:00 AM


Of course Keller strikes him as the right choice ... anyone reading his insanely ass-licking magazine piece on Bush from a few months ago would have known he intended to back off on Bush. In fact, some people read it as exactly that ... a signal to the paper's critics that he would restore it to its proper place.

Oh well, maybe now it will be our turn to hound an editor of the New York Times into early retirement for his politics.

However, TAPped rightly noted, a couple of days ago before we got temporarily sidetracked renovating our offices, that:

During most of Raines� reign, conservative pundits like Andrew Sullivan and raging centrists like Mickey Kaus liked to say how if the no-nonsense Keller was executive editor, you wouldn�t have all these biased, left-wing stories in the paper. Who wants to take a bet with Tapped that these guys will still be complaining about the Times� deep-rooted bias in six months, Keller or no Keller?

We'd count ourselves on the same side as them there, so we�re not taking the wager. In fact, would anyone?

Oh, maybe Bill Bennett ...


TAPped and various others have noted the blogger-in-residence at Sully�s old mag finding a reason to appreciate Raines after all.

But say this for the former New York Times executive editor: You'd certainly be able to tell from reading his paper that the Bush administration was embroiled in its first major foreign policy scandal. By contrast, the Times' actual coverage of the Niger uranium hoax has been virtually non-existent under interim executive editor Joe Lelyveld.


Is it too much to ask that the paper put a single investigative reporter on the beat? (Or, if there already is one, then how bout an investigative reporter who produces a piece every once in a while?) Under Lelyveld the paper seems to have lapsed into its prior stupor as the official, but barely readable, paper of record.

Isn�t this exactly the sort of thing Sullivan was sometimes complaining about ... the Times playing down a big story everyone else was on? Why isn�t he complaining about this now? Because they�re leaving the Bush administration alone.


Roger Ailes on what Raines really said re himself and Picasso.

posted by Sully 7/16/2003 11:43:00 AM

Monday, July 14, 2003

HO HO HO ...:

Perhaps the BBC reporter was the guy in the beret with the red star; even for him, Sully makes a surprising amount of typos in the post, or his keyboard�s spacebar is stuck:


He seeks out an old Ho ChiMinh soldiertofindsomeone whocan expres regret for Vietnam's transitionto market capitalism

It is impossible not to be inawe of the sacrifices

Note that in this last instance, the sentence in the quote was properly spaced.

Perhaps if Jayson Blair had been such a poor typist and exempt from copy editing, Sullivan would have liked him.

posted by Sully 7/14/2003 01:28:00 PM


A commentator at Eschaton has another take on that supposed al-Qaeda tape.

posted by Sully 7/14/2003 01:24:00 PM


TBogg�s analogy is apt (OK, we�ve used it before ourselves). Andy is no longer capable of knowing when to quit.

He could easily have left the Raines interview alone. It would have shown class and character, you know, those things Sullivan is always saying Clinton didn�t have.

But know, like the moth to the flame he gloriously immolates himself.

First he tells us he couldn�t bear to watch it. Oh, come on, Andrew ... you sat up all night wanking to footage of Saddam�s statue coming down and now you tell us you�re put off by a man�s old gray head talking?

Next, this:

Anyway, it�s quite clear that Raines hasn�t the slightest clue what happened to him and not the faintest notion of where he went wrong. He thinks his main mistake was trying to push the Times too fast to new heights of excellence.

Sounds like another forced-out editor of a prestigious publication we know of.

Charlie naturally didn�t ask Raines a thing about how he skewed coverage to the left.

After Sully stayed up all night waiting for him to call as part of the interview preparation, no doubt.

But he wasn�t a total push-over (although how he suppressed a giggle when Raines cited Picasso as a retirement model I don�t know).

Perhaps because he is not Andrew Sullivan? The Blog Queen is beginning to remind of us those children who test positive for autism because, upon seeing a strip of illustrations in which one bear leaves an object under one thing and then another comes in later and moves it somewhere else, they say the first bear should look in the new hiding place first because they don�t recognize perspectives other than theirs.

Now I�ve spoken to many NYT reporters since the liberation and read the comments of many, many more. The march metaphor is true only if you view it as a kind of death march run by a crazed, power-mad dictator. When the land-mine went off, the troops mutinied like punch-drunk deserters.

Just where and when have you been speaking to the Times faculty, Sully? (Eleventh Avenue late on weekend nights doesn�t count). If you�ve gotten a lot of emails from them, say so. Don�t think you can get away with overstating your access to impress us.

Aside from which, note this overextended military metaphor, using the same language he used to describe the invasion of Iraq, from someone who threw a hissy fit a few months back because John Kerry dared to use �regime change� to refer to the events of November 2004.

He still doesn�t realize why he created such a mess. Perhaps he never will.

Go to the mirror boy ...

Finally there is the reference to Raines� �tiny mind� in the concluding graf. Remember this whenever he says this whole thing wasn�t an emotional reaction to his entirely justified firing � justified even more by his �whiny unprofessional little baby� attitude ever since.

Now it�s so obvious why he touts blogging so much. With the kind of attitude that would make a three-year-old ashamed of him or herself, this tyro isn�t going to get hired again anywhere.

He has not only gone round the bend, he�s gone round several bends.

posted by Sully 7/14/2003 01:16:00 PM

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Also worth checking out


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The Alaskan climate graph examined

Proof positive that Sullivan cannot, and should not, be trusted as a journalist to get his facts right.


The fisking of Norah Vincent

How we drove her out of Blogistan almost all by ourselves.


Excerpts from Lee Siegel's 2001 Harper's piece

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Why we blog the way we blog

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Why we blog the way we blog, Part II.

A reply to some of the same criticisms from the less friendly (back then) Arthur Silber


Bush-hating and proud of it

Our response to David Brooks.


Who Was That Masked Man?

The Horse remembered.


How the media lynched O.J. Simpson

Off-topic and our most controversial post ever.


Journalists behaving badly, updated.

Our wedding gift to Ruth Shalit, former TNR It Girl




Eve Tushnet's classic zinger

Sullivan has never quite been put in his place like this. Even Mickey Kaus thought it was funny.


"Bush reveals his poisonous colours"

Diane E. goes digging through the memory hole and finds a Times of London column Sullivan would prefer be forgotten.


The Datalounge list of potential titles for his memoirs

As reposted by Atrios


"The Princess of Provincetown"

Jim Capozzola goes further in that direction than we would ever dare.


Sullivan urges the Bush Administration to lie to the public

Brendan and Ben catch him in the act.


The Washington Times: An irredeemably left-wing rag

Bob Somerby shows the consequences of Sullivan's own logic of media bias


The Central Tenets of the Blogosphere

Derived from Sullivan’s blogging by s.z. of World O’ Crap and posted as a comment at Sadly, No!