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

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


Saturday, September 20, 2003


We couldn�t help ourselves. After all, thanks to making ourselves Friedman-bashing central, to which Atrios linked, as well as Roger Ailes and Digby picking up the �vapors,� we just had the first consecutive 1,000+-unique visitor days in our history.

So here�s more. First, from Afghan Voice, a blog we found via the blogdex page on Friedman�s piece and will be checking out some more often,

Thomas Friedman has lost sanity and all balance. He now writes that France is becoming our enemy.

Is that why they saved 100 American lives in Liberia, back in June?

And billmon may just have won the shortening derby:

I said before the war that Bush Administration might fuck up in Iraq, and I said during the war that the Bush Administration might fuck up in Iraq, and I said after the war that the Bush Administration might fuck up in Iraq, and now the Bush Administration has fucked up in Iraq. And it�s all France�s fault.

posted by Sully 9/20/2003 12:17:00 AM

Friday, September 19, 2003


Sullivan inveighs upon you to �[t]ry and find a single pro-war voice out of dozens� on this BBC Vox Pop page.

Well, what does he call this?

Yes, the reasons were full of lies, but ultimately the war was just. It is about time people realised we could not just sit back and �put up� with watching thousands more die under Hussein�s regime. Many of you carp on about your �rights to the truth,� while innocent Iraqis died.

And no, it�s not signed �Andrew, USA� though it might as well be. We also did check for a �Joe Washington,� but there isn�t any.

And while we�re at it let�s not use this as a reason to suggest the BBC is biased, unless you have some proof that the BBC greatly misrepresents the responses to the bit in question. So a tax-supported entity reprints the opinions of those who pay for it? Wow, imagine that! Get the capital out of the country, boys, socialism�s imminent!

More to the point, Sully denies what even Blair does not: that his government is in deep trouble due to the vast unpopularity of the war.

Link via Steve Gilliard, who says:

I think the British press has underestimated the anger the people feel towards Blair and his war. A lot.

So, don�t expect the Sage of South Goodstone, so deliberately out of touch with both his native and adopted countries, to understand from his favorite sources.

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 11:57:00 PM


Jesse plays with Tom Friedman:

Has it ever occured to Tom �Mommy Is The Camel Hump Of Paternalism� Friedman that terrorists will be energized regardless of what America�s actions are? Once you have made the decision to try and commit mass-murder, the particulars of who supports what and how much George Bush can bench press are sort of moot.

As does the Horse:

Friedman claimed the French were hoping for a Bush failure in Iraq. That might or might not be true, at this point. If it is true, everyone knows it�s owed less to the petulance of French leaders than to the incompetence of the Unelected Fraud.

And, via them, Greg Palast:

What got Friedman's brain a-boilin� is the impertinent suggestion by French diplomats that, if the US invaded Iraq to bring democracy, then why not allow Iraqis to vote. Vote! Can you imagine! It's all that silly �libertay, equalitay� stuff that unsophisticated Americans believed before the Patriot Act.

OK, enough said.

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 02:07:00 PM


Happy Birthday TBogg!

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 01:59:00 PM


Yes. But many on the Western left couldn�t give a damn about the lives of Iraqis. If they had, they would have supported the war, wouldn�t they?

We guess we�re just not all blessed with Andrew Sullivan�s brain, are we?

He has never explained why it had to be an either/or proposition. We are perfectly capable of caring about the lives of Iraqi people, at least a few thousand of who inarguably died needlessly in the war we opposed (we also care about American lives too, which Sullivan neglects to state that he does here, so using his logic and rules of debate we have to assume that he does not).

With the original justification for the war (which, Josh Marshall�s interview with Joseph Wilson shows, was shaky enough that even the Bushies knew needed some sort of attempt at UN approval) rapidly tanking, Sullivan has to make self-aggrandizing statements like these more and more often.

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 01:57:00 PM


Jacob Levy�s TNR piece (see post below) refuting the �lucky duckies� editorial with broad-based communitarian arguments has also come in for its fair share of abuse.

Kevin Drum got the ball rolling with this succinct post saying it better than anyone else:

But in making this rather rarified argument, Jacob completely misses the real criticism that liberals have of the �lucky duckies� thesis, and I can�t tell if this is deliberate on his part or if he genuinely doesn�t understand it. Here it is:

The poor already pay a lot of taxes. The Wall Street Journal is completely full of shit.

Between sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, and payroll taxes, the poorest 20% of Americans pay about 18% of their income in taxes. You can quibble with the exact numbers, but it�s plain to everyone that the poor, in fact, are already pretty heavily taxed.

That�s the reason for liberal outrage against the Journal's egregiously dishonest argument, and it�s a very down to earth one. The WSJ editorial page is written by very smart, very well informed people, and since they know the real tax burden on the poor perfectly well, it is only their distinctively radical brand of intellectual dishonesty that allows them to pretend otherwise.

TAPped links to one of their web-only articles on the same theme:

Do these people pay their own bills? Do they balance their own checkbooks or shop for their own groceries? Looking at my expenses for a month, I seem to do far more than pay federal income taxes in order to contribute my share to the government coffers.

My pay stubs keep listing this thing called �FICA� that pays for Social Security and Medicare. My monthly utility bills, be they gas, electric or phone, have various payments to the federal government included. When I go to fill up my gas tank, I seem to be paying what a sign on the pump refers to as �taxes.� If I go out to eat, at the bottom of the check is something marked �taxes.� When I buy a new CD, I seem to pay taxes again. A six-pack of beer costs me in both federal and state taxes, and if I ever wanted to start smoking, a carton of cigarettes adds another tax. If I�m paying these taxes, I�ll bet the so-called �lucky duckies� � as The Wall Street Journal last fall labeled poor Americans who pay little or no income taxes � are paying them as well.

In fact, the lucky duckies are paying a higher percentage of their income in regressive taxes than the members of The Wall Street Journal editorial board are. FICA, of course, is infamously regressive, as the rate drops from 7.65 percent to 1.45 percent on income above $87,000 a year. Sales taxes don�t change based on the payer�s income, and neither do alcohol taxes, gasoline taxes or most state income taxes. Actually, once all taxes are taken into consideration, those Americans whose incomes are in the bottom 20 percent pay a larger portion of their earnings in taxes than the average American � and only the top 20 percent pays more.

So is this lie about people who pay no taxes being repeated over and over by every single person on the right? Actually, no: Some of them tell a slightly more honest version of the story. Instead of claiming that the federal income tax is the only tax, they ignore state taxes but say that the federal income tax is the only federal tax. But that still presents two problems: First, there are other federal taxes, and second, state taxes have just as much impact on the average family�s spending decisions as federal taxes.

The Wall Street Journal, for example, claimed this week that the tax bill �exempts another three million-plus low-income workers from any federal tax liability whatsoever.� Perhaps, but apparently these 3 million people aren�t paying FICA. They also don�t drive cars, smoke, drink or use the phone. That�s not 3 million people. That�s Eric Robert Rudolph.


What�s most disheartening is that this lie isn�t necessary in order to explain the supposed goals of conservatism. The fact that the average American, rich or poor, pays roughly the same percentage of his or her income in taxes does not contradict the belief that the government spends too much, or that taxes in general are too high. So an obsession with this idea that the poor �don�t pay taxes� seems to indicate that for many conservatives, shifting the tax burden to lower-income Americans ranks higher on the list of priorities than, say, reducing the size of government. Guess who�s practicing class warfare now?

You just know that next they�re going to suggest that higher relative taxes on the poor as opposed to the rich is a good thing because it will increase the incentive to work harder, save money, invest luckily (excuse us, wisely) and become rich and tax-exempt. And they will still call this 100 percent conservatism.

Max Sawicky steps in as well, actually addressing Levy�s argument head-on:

I don�t think Levy has a serious argument. Everything hinges on what �treating people the same� means. In and of itself, it doesn�t mean anything. His presumption is that everyone paying an equal share of income is equal treatment, but this is a completely arbitrary choice.

For one thing, defining �income� is a task for which many trees have died. So the idea of an equal share of income leaves much to the imagination. Income received as cash? Intangible income? Income as accrued or when realized? Income received now or later? What deductions legitimately offset income? Etc.

For two, equal treatment could be defined in other ways. Once again, much attention has been devoted to this by economists, among others. Is it equal sacrifice? Is it fair to tax a person on endowments she declines to exploit for the sake of higher money income?

For three, what about the benefits of public spending? If I tax you $10 and her $20, and provide benefits in the same degree, have you been treated equally? It should be obvious that other considerations could come into play. If a janitor�s payroll tax finances a legal system that protects Bill Gates� access to his fortune, how are the net gains of that arrangement distributed?

The fact that poor people pay taxes other than income taxes is the least of the complications. The content of �equal treatment,� really fair treatment, is the problem that Levy glosses over entirely. That he ascribes this argument to the left, albeit in a civil and academic fashion, is just a new caricature.

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 01:46:00 PM


Gilligan is in trouble, alright ... but he�s not near Blair (Jayson, not Tony) territory yet.

Read the story, and you�ll see that he�s accused of having created two sets of notes, one that seems to back up pointing to Alastair Campbell as the sexer-up, the other not, and then showing only the former to the inquiry, sort of like truckers who have their real logbook and the one they show the state trooper when pulled over.

That rather puts him in closer with another journalist Sullivan has some experience with � Stephen Glass, who unlike Blair created elaborate fake evidence to support his stories (Blair invented details and claimed to have gone places he didn�t, but unlike Glass he never made the whole thing up).

Gilligan�s sin is real, alright ... but he has not reached the level of either yet. For no one has yet denied (no matter how much Sullivan tries to direct your attention elsewhere) that the nut of the story, that the dossier stated things with more certainty than the intelligence should have warranted, is true. As Sully�s �London friend I trust� (is there a friend you don�t trust) explains, that in and of itself is scandalworthy given the way the British intelligence community (do they even refer to it that way?) has traditionally worked.

Also in the Guardian (from Steve Gilliard�s blog, we admit) we found this Polly Toynbee column that almost seems to be asking for our services, down to almost one letter:

BBC needs a Bullywatch


But this multi-headed assault is something new. Gilligan�s contrition this week unleashed an avalanche of BBC loathing from the rightwing press. The Telegraph�s Beebwatch, mimicking the Daily Mail�s Marrwatch, is bent on proving pink bias. Murdoch�s press bellows out anti-BBC propaganda from every organ in the sonorously dishonest tones of his broadsheets or the bullying of his tabloids: �The BBC must sack the hopeless hack Gilligan ... he must not be allowed on the airwaves again,� says the Sun. So the BBC should take lessons in journalism from the likes of these?

She, too, is worried about privatization:

But the BBC is not in a �market� and must not be levelled. It belongs to the nation, and others can find their commercial niches around it where they can. Let it dominate if it can, in the name of citizens, for their good.


Is the BBC blameless? Of course not, but considering the prevailing stink of most journalism, it has probably over-done the hairshirt mea culpas. After all, the essence of Gilligan�s story was true. The dossier was fundamentally flawed, and intelligence officers were saying so. Kelly was a high-level source who saw how the text was strengthened, even if he was not quite right to finger Campbell directly. But the inquiry has shown how paper-thin was the difference between John Scarlett doing his political masters� bidding, and the masters doing it themselves. Meanwhile, Hans Blix has confirmed that this dossier was plain wrong; Saddam had peashooters. Gilligan�s errors are less important than the substance of his report, which was correct � and revelatory.

But the BBC is not blameless and lessons are already learned. The governors will not take reporters� assurances at face value in future. Journalists will be banned from writing for newspapers. Gilligan�s article in the Mail on Sunday was a damaging liability, as are John Humphrys writing for Murdoch and all the others who imperil the BBC�s name in the ferment of a politicised press. Also the BBC, too, often joins the unthinking cacophony of abuse and bullying of politicians; in the din of mindless attack-journalism it has to stay analytical, serious and trustworthy. But these are all slippages easily repaired with firm editorial control. None of what has happened cries out for radical reform. The greatest danger is that the government thinks that it does � either in a red mist of revenge, or simply out of that age-old fidgety habit of making change for change�s sake.

Seems like we�ll have to get an email in to Ms. Toynbee.

And our good friend Joe Conason makes an appearance over there, as well, saying what we thought reading Toynbee�s piece:

To an American, there is much that sounds awfully familiar about Beebwatch � the series launched last week by the Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore to root out �soft left� bias in the BBC. Moore's determination to inflict daily humiliation on the network coincides neatly with efforts by Rupert Murdoch and the Tory opposition to deprive Britain�s great broadcasting institution of its licence fee, just as its charter is coming up for renewal.

At the very least, this campaign aims to intimidate the BBC�s management from broadcasting anything that might offend reactionary sensibilities; but its ultimate goal is the crippling, or even the abolition, of the BBC itself.

Moore�s tone echoes the American right� incessant whining about "liberal media bias". And while British broadcasting is structurally (and qualitatively) very different from its US counterpart, the conservative agenda in both countries is identical: to stigmatise dissent and to dominate discourse.

Note the hed; although it refers to the end of the piece, we wonder if someone has someone in mind.

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 02:25:00 AM


Not only did Roger Ailes second our notation of The Blog Queen�s strange double standard concerning the use of the word �vapors,� he snagged one we�d missed.

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 01:51:00 AM


Again from the earlier Atrios post, Steve Gilliard lets loose if you scroll down far enough (he hasn�t enabled permalinks yet):

You know, I think he spelled Saudi Arabia F-R-A-N-C-E. So when you read France, substitute Saudi Arabia and this might make sense.

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 01:44:00 AM


If Isabel wasntabel to you, Sullivan, it might be because it headed inland to the west and made landfall in North Carolina, taking it away from Provincetown. You needn't worry.

However, don�t think you took the bullet and found it wanting. In the past, Ptown hasn�t been so lucky.

posted by Sully 9/19/2003 01:36:00 AM

Thursday, September 18, 2003


Once again through Atrios, we learn that none other than Tom Tomorrow (who should know) has called Sullivan on his meterological cluelessness:

... can someone remind me again, when is it exactly that they don�t warn you about hurricanes? (In the era of modern weather forecasting, I mean.)

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 05:14:00 PM


Satire here:

Five-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is crying in the corner of the playground today.

He is sitting in the dirt and dandelions by the fence, whimpering over a ball that he is alleged to have brought from home. Witnesses say that he arrived with the ball earlier today, claiming his uncle just bought it for him and it was the best ball in the world. None of the other children in the playground, however, appeared to share his opinion and in fact ignored him completely.

In the past, Friedman has provided the ball used in various games that the kids play. According to one of those kids, �Tommy thought just because he had the only ball for so long that it was somehow special. It was just a dumb ball, and he�s just a dumb kid.�

Courtesy of Atrios.

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 01:59:00 PM


Atrios reprints a commentator�s suggestion:

I hereby grant Tom Friedman the 2003 Colin Powell Award.

This award is bestowed upon a noted person in the field of Foreign Affairs who has completely lost all credibility and dignity in a 12 month period. Recipients are selected based upon their ability to take a reputation for cross-ideological sensibility and totally tarnish it beyond what could have possibly been forseen.

2002 winner, British PM Tony Blair, will not be able to attend the award ceremony as he is busy �sexing up� the Kay Report.

Just how, one wonders. Will we be able to open and separate the pages after he�s done?

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 01:52:00 PM


Here. And here (this is good and we�ll quote):

France is now our enemy because they had the temerity to be insulted by the insults of Bush and Rumsfeld over the Iraq invasion.

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 01:48:00 PM


Abu Aardvark gets into the Shortening game with this take on Bartley:

Shorter Robert Bartley: The Democrats have become the party of rage. As the editor of the Wall Street Journal�s op-ed page in the 1990s, when we treated Bill Clinton only with discretion and respect, I would know nothing about this. Democratic complaints should be seen as �projection� � attributing one�s own faults to others � something which, again, I wouldn�t know anything about.

And Elton Beard, who�s made a thing out of this, goes off on Friedman, as well.

Shorter Tom Friedman:

France sucks.

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 01:43:00 PM


Hesiod cites us in noting the pass John Burns got from the hawks for admitting to passing information about an impending U.S. strike on a legitimate Iraqi target to Iraqi officials before the strike.

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 01:38:00 PM


When Sullivan says �irritating,� read �effective.�

Funny that TNR doesn�t speak with one voice on this one.

But more to the point, we now inform Sullivan that he has moved too far from reality, to coin a phrase. For the Journal�s editorial was unambiguous about raising taxes on the poor:

For what is the undeniable result of this:

... our increasingly two-tiered tax system is undermining the political consensus for cutting taxes at all.

Consider what happens to those in the lowest bracket. Say a person earns $12,000. After subtracting the personal exemption, the standard deduction and assuming no tax credits, then applying the 10% rate of the lowest bracket, the person ends up paying a little less than 4% of income in taxes. It ain�t peanuts, but not enough to get his or her blood boiling with tax rage.

plus this?:

And as fewer and fewer people are responsible for paying more and more of all taxes, the constituency for tax cutting, much less for tax reform, is eroding. Workers who pay little or no taxes can hardly be expected to care about tax relief for everybody else. They are also that much more detached from recognizing the costs of government.

Now, of course conservatives will jump in and cry that this never explicitly advocates raising taxes on the poor, just not giving them any tax relief.


But aren�t conservatives the first to say that not cutting someone�s taxes, or canceling a cut, is the same as raising them because it pretty much has the same effect on your wallet? You�d certainly think that from their campaign commercials, from the fact that they count canceled cuts as increases (since, after all, you�ve usually planned whenever they total up the times Candidate X has raised taxes.

And wasn�t it always part of the conservative program that lower taxes, no matter where, no matter who for, are always a good thing? Like the poor don�t spend money? We can hear Barry Goldwater rolling over ... One imagines that if conservatives raise taxes on the poor

Of course, the really hilarious thing is just how much the original editorial revealed about how little the WSJ editorialists understand about the poor. He (and it�s gotta be a he) assumes that, like all the rich people he undoubtedly knows (and c�mon, when your venue is the notoriously rabidly rightist editorial page at one of the world�s leading business publications, you have to know a few), they do not draw a single breath without obsessing feverishly about their tax burden. You know, every minute of every day, calculating exactly what percentage of whatever they�re doing is going to pay taxes, averaging and amortizing intangible numbers in their heads, figuring out just what the government is taking away from them and what they can do about it. My 1040, my soul. Never mind all the more elemental things that most people outside the Platonic universe that the Wall Street Journal�s editorial writers have managed to corporeally inhabit, like what to have for dinner, whether their kids are going to pass this class, how long to go before getting their next oil change, and so forth.

If I were a poor man, deedle deedle deedle dee ...

That�s not even getting into the startling arrogance of using the term �lucky duckies� to refer to people in the lowest income bracket. Seething hatred for the poor, who have the luxury of worrying only that they have a full belly at the end of the day, seeps out of the piece, and that�s what we�ve seized on that Levy�s equivocating piece cannot dismiss.

Also, one has to ask whether it�s true that people who pay income taxes are any more effective in understanding and controlling the cost of government, given that they tend to vote for candidates who promise them, as Bush has, the same level of services at a vastly reduced price.

Of course, the WSJ doesn�t bother to connect this to Ronald Reagan�s efforts to give working families a break. Or the increase in the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans is due to them becoming much richer over the past two years. Or ask the question that any liberal worthy of the name would: is it possible, just possible, that this issue that so troubles you is a direct result of the increase in income inequity in this country? And if you want the poor to have more money so they can rise in income and thus share more of the cost of government, you have to invest them via all those programs you have so cavalierly been cutting to the bone lately?

�Lucky duckies�. Keep it going folks, it�s working.

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 01:29:00 PM


We now have proof (ahem) positive that Sullivan, by standards he himself set, is a homophobe.

Referring to Hurricane Isabel, The Blog Queen says of a certain out-to-everyone-except-himself friend and fellow Internet pest:

Matt Drudge is getting the vapors, the way he does.

Didn�t Sullivan himself once fly into a tizzy because Digby once used the phrase �maidenly vapors� on the now-discontinued Media Whores Online comment boards in reference to his swoons over Bush? (we can�t find the original post on Sullivan�s site ... it doesn�t come up on Google for that phrase, although we do).

And don�t say the word �maidenly� changes things. For �vapors� pretty much implies that all by itself.

This is no different from Sullivan accusing Alterman of homophobia because he had the temerity to describe Randy Andy as �narcissistic� (as if Sully weren�t to narcissism as water is to wet), then gleefully quoting Christopher Hitchens using the same word about David Brock. Some words it�s OK for Andrew Sullivan to use, but not for liberals.

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 12:52:00 PM


Sullivan tries to justify his deferred Thatcherite desire for the BBC�S privatization (which would lead us to ask what about that would prevent this sort of thing from happening again? After all, The New York Times has always been private. And Jayson Blair would have been fired no matter who paid his salary) with this Independent article which, he contends, shows that little remains of the original BBC story.

But, of course, he doesn�t quote anything from it, because when you click on the link you find this:

The 45-minute claim �was included in the dossier against our wishes, because it wasn�t reliable. Most things in the dossier were double source, but that was single source, and we believed that the source was wrong.�

This, the guts of the Gilligan claim, has been vindicated by the inquiry evidence. The inquiry heard this week that a memo was written on behalf of the DIS by Dr Brian Jones, head of its WMD section, objecting to the claim as it appeared in the dossier. Dr Jones and his chemical expert wrote further formal complaints.

The DIS did feel the claim was unreliable because it came from a single source. But we have also heard that those intelligence officials were worried because the claim came second-hand, not from an Iraqi military officer. It also failed to make clear the intelligence related only to battlefield weapons and not missiles that could threaten the West.

Even Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, agreed this week that the claim received �undue prominence� in the dossier and should have included original raw intelligence.

(Italics in original).

So, the fact that Gilligan had a real story but nevertheless was overweening and ambitious enough to jazz it up a bit (much as, we admit, Michael Moore does too often for our liking) justifies privatizing a government TV network in a country that already has at least one private broadcast TV network? Wethinks this is more about accomplishing Thatcher�s unfinished agenda than improving the quality of British television journalism.

And what would become of a privatized BBC, one wonders? Thatcher was reportedly livid when one of her early privatization success stories, British Airways, decided years later to remove the Union Jack from its planes as it now served a truly global market (Funny, even Thatcher found an aspect of capitalism that she recoiled from). What would Sullivan say if, for instance, a BBC no longer constrained by any government oversight decided it could make more money broadcasting the US NFL playoffs instead of Match of the Day? Would the British people sit still for that? That the first �B� in BBC stood for ... well, roughly what the �K� in KFC now stands for?

Or what if, say, public opposition to selling the Beeb to Rupert Murdoch led to it instead falling into the hands of, say, Silvio Berlusconi, some French (eeek!) consortium or ... a rich Arab sheikh. Bet Sully would be screaming for the BBC�s renationalization then (don�t laugh ... Britain already had to resume control of its railroad tracks after the attempt to privatize them was a disaster in every way).

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 12:32:00 PM


Opprobrium for Friedman�s Worst ... Column ... Ever and Sullivan�s ringing endorsement of it (which we fully expected) has been pouring in all morning.

Atrios goes for the minimalist comment, but read the comment thread, which keeps getting bigger every time we look.

Jo Fish was there first in the dark of night:

Since when are the French obligated to help us? Granted, you and all your ilk have long maintained the cheese-eating-surrender-monkey theme as a tool for beating up a faithful ally, but now it�s gone a bit far. The joke is over. The unilateralist foreign policy of the 1600 Crew has managed to make enemies of the staunchest of allies, and turned the rest into opportunistic �Mouse that Roared� allies. No sovereign nation �owes� us anything when we behave as arrogant, spoiled children, and yet you seem to believe we have some divine right to their assistance, in any case and for any reason. (a bleg? From Friedman ... sorry you didn�t write it?)


If that�s your �money quote,� cash in your chips and leave the table now, Andy. If you want to build alliances and maintain them, you don�t insult your peers (Freedom Fries, Chocolate Makers, Right-wing Talk show doing the Cheese-eating Surrender Monkey riff 24/7), you start by treating them with respect and like adults.

One would tend to believe that as someone who is always complaining about being �marginalized� for your personal choices you would understand this. But I guess it�s more fun to complain than learn ... sorry Sully, you�re still a fool, just on a global scale now.

TAPped speaks for Establishment Liberal Media:

Taking a look at ongoing problems in Iraq, Tom Friedman concludes that the French are to blame. Tapped wouldn�t want to defend everything France has done in recent years, but this is a pretty lame point of view. If French cooperation was really necessary for the invasion�s success then the Bush administration should either have secured France's cooperation or else shouldn�t have invaded. If we don�t really need French help, then we ought to move on without them.

Quiddity Quack concludes that Friedman has lost it completely and notes some of the internal contradictions in the column:

FRIEDMAN: France seems to have given no thought as to how this would affect France.

BUT A FEW SENTENCES EARLIER HE WROTE: France wants America to sink in a quagmire there in the crazy hope that a weakened U.S. will pave the way for France to assume its �rightful� place as America's equal, if not superior, in shaping world affairs.

So there is some thought about how this would affect France. Or maybe not. Or something.

Abu Aaardvark is on point:

Anyone know why Tom Friedman is jumping on the Freedom Fries bandwagon months after it left port? Seriously, Friedman�s piece today comes off as slightly crazed, like he got served some seriously bad food on an Air France flight. Or � here�s a thought � maybe this was actually David Brooks�s text, and the NYT editors got confused? Seriously, once more: France is our �enemy� and is carrying out a systematic plan, �Operation America Must Fail?� Now, I�ll admit to being bemused at the temporary convergence of interest between France � which wants a rapid return to Iraqi sovereignty � and Ahmed Chalabi � who wants a rapid transfer of power to Ahmed Chalabi. But Friedman�s incredulity over the French lack of enthusiasm for coming to America�s rescue strains credulity. Look, from the French perspective, every criticism they made of Bush�s policy has been vindicated � the absence of an immediate Iraqi threat, the stupidity of American unilateralism, the need for an international leading role in rebuilding Iraq. This would seem to merit at least the possibility that it is time for the US to start listening to French views on the matter. Why should France start pouring resources or political capital into an American project otherwise?

We�d add this: If we need help, and we do, we will not much longer be in a position where we can even pretend to dictate the terms under which such help will be granted. The time to start talking and make do with what you get is now.

posted by Sully 9/18/2003 12:12:00 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


It�s too bad for the Blog Queen that he pretends no truly liberal blogs save Josh Marshall�s exist, otherwise he�d be Sully rather than Dully this week since Kevin Drum�s interview with Paul Krugman (coupled with his Times magazine piece) would have given him lots to practice his quote-distorting and frothing skills to the extent that he might reclaim his title from Donald Luskin, the Terribly Unsuccessful Fund Manager.

But we focused on one, an excerpt from the intro of his new book, that showed us that Krugman is on the same wavelength as us regarding the true, Pinochet-esque, agenda of the contemporary American Right:

Just before putting this book to bed, I discovered a volume that describes the situation almost old book by, of all people, Henry Kissinger....

In the first few pages, Kissinger describes the problems confronting a heretofore stable diplomatic system when it is faced with a �revolutionary power� � a power that does not accept that system�s legitimacy....It seems clear to me that one should regard America�s right-wing a revolutionary power in Kissinger�s sense....


There�s a pattern...within the Bush administration....which should suggest that the administration itself has radical goals. But in each case the administration has reassured moderates by pretending otherwise � by offering rationales for its policy that don�t seem all that radical. And in each case moderates have followed a strategy of appeasement....this is hard for journalists to deal with: they don�t want to sound like crazy conspiracy theorists. But there�s nothing crazy about ferreting out the real goals of the right wing; on the contrary, it�s unrealistic to pretend that there isn't a sort of conspiracy here, albeit one whose organization and goals are pretty much out in the open....

Here�s a bit more from Kissinger: �The distinguishing feature of a revolutionary power is not that it feels threatened...but that absolutely nothing can reassure it (Kissinger's emphasis). Only absolute security � the neutralization of the opponent � is considered a sufficient guarantee�....I don�t know where the right�s agenda stops, but I have learned never to assume that it can be appeased through limited concessions. Pundits who predict moderation on the part of the Bush administration, on any issue, have been consistently wrong....

(Emphasis ours)

Fight the real enemy!

posted by Sully 9/17/2003 09:20:00 PM


Jo Fish on Sullivan�s latest puerile stunt:

The Queen of the Dunes has yet another �Award� to pass out for something, oh yeah, it�s the �Dowd Award� for (Sully�s interpretation of) mangling the facts, something HRH should be pretty fair at spotting, since she practices that art-form continuously.


I have seen little written anywhere that we are fixing infrastructure Saddam destroyed, I think that the Iraqis had power, water and food before the first bombs fell, Sully. So explain to me again how you don�t qualify for your own �Egregious Stupidity Award?�

posted by Sully 9/17/2003 09:11:00 PM


Kevin Drum agrees with Sullivan�s take on Burns� piece (although a warm letter from Samaranch to Uday Hussein shouldn�t surprise anyone given the former�s �service� in Francisco Franco�s rubber-stamp parliament. So yes, there is an issue there, although it�s not unique to Iraq.

But Sullivan should also equally take note (although he does, via his Romenesko link) of Christiane Amanpour�s recent lament that the embedded media were equally capable of being obsequious to U.S. troops and officials as well (link from Atrios, as usual, a complaint which got her something the equivalent of which Burns won�t get: a snide insinuation from a Fox News spokeswhore that she was working for al-Qaeda.

And, BTW, did anyone take note of this part of Burns� story?

So in the three or four days that followed, I got a call from the Times saying that they had certain indications from the Pentagon that in twenty-four hours the information ministry would be gone. So I got up at 2:00 a.m., and I said to people downstairs, �Get Mr. Al-Tayyib here.� He arrived at 5:00 a.m and I said to him, �Listen to me and listen carefully. I�m not going to cause a panic among journalists. I remember what you did to CNN the last time. I don�t want to be accused of spreading alarm and despondency, but you�ve got to close that ministry down, because anybody who�s in that building tomorrow night will be killed. We have friends in Washington. People who are concerned about my welfare and that of other American correspondents. That�s how we know it.�

For twenty-four hours he said he�d see what he could do. They did nothing. That night at 8:00 p.m, I went to every floor of the ministry. I told everybody. �Get off! Get off this building. It�s going to be attacked this night.�

So, if you read this right, the New York Times shared information it got from the Pentagon about a U.S. military target with its reporter on the ground, in thrall to enemy officials, who then went and told enemy officials and then tried to soften the target himself.

God, can you imagine what Sullivan would have done with this against Raines had he known about it at the time? Looks like it was all just personal, whatever he said.

posted by Sully 9/17/2003 12:59:00 AM


We were going to rail against what Sullivan seems to be so proud of himself for christening a �bleg� � the sneaky, blog-inspired practice of getting other people to do your research for you and then taking all the credit yourself.

Well, once you get past the misplaced �to� in his first sentence (he meant �for�), we notice immediately that there is no mention of Iraq whatsoever in the RAND report he seems to have found. All his numbers seem to be referring to what the report says about Afghanistan. Where he is getting his numbers for Iraq? He owes us his sources.

Perhaps he should have found someone willing to do the research. This is a major goof.

UPDATE: Looking down further, we see it�s from Fareed Zakaria�s WaPost op-ed. Still, note that that�s $20 billion to be spent on Iraqi infrastructure, not necessarily things like schools and personal home reconstruction.

And that there were no deaths in Germany from enemy guerilla fire during the first year. Or the later ones.

And recall that the actual Marshall Plan was funded partly by income tax rates that ran as high as 91 percent at some points. Not bloody likely that George W. will ever finance our Iraq efforts that way, is it?

Most importantly, the RAND report�s clearly-stated conclusion is that high force levels are directly correlative with successful nation-building ... we went into Germany far better in that department than we did, and still are, in Iraq. That is where the real criticism lies.

As Zakaria also says, in the quote that piqued Sully�s interest:

The United States is planning to put at least $20 billion into Iraq this year � half the GDP of the country. Iraq has not had a published budget since 1979. Its ministries cannot spend $20 billion, let alone spend it well. There is no chance that the United States would keep the aid flowing if it went directly into such a system.

posted by Sully 9/17/2003 12:29:00 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


As always, some of the best writing on is to be found on the letters page:

While your take on Al Franken�s quote raises the question of whether a person's interior religious faith can be judged by deeds, don�t we as voters have the right to ask whether such a key portion of Bush�s self-promotion is reflected in deeds? Whether Bush is truly a person of faith is, of course, a question that no one could answer accurately, probably not even his closest family or friends. Nevertheless, Bush and his advisers have conssitently portrayed him making policy decisions based upon religious convictions. This has been one of his key appeals.

Therefore, voters have not only the right but the obligation to ask themselves 1) if this seems amenable to their vision and 2) if his deeds bear it out. As a Christian, I find it impossible to square some of Bush�s ideas with a notion of text-based faith. It seems to me that a practicing Christian would have a lot of problems with executing people without bothering to review their files; it seems to me that Jesus� declarations about obligations to the poor are clear and are clearly not being met by this administration.

You yourself blamed the press for not discussing the Biblical basis for the Alabama governor�s efforts to raise taxes to provide better services. That was, I think, a valid critique. Isn�t it also valid, however, to say that if the Alabama governor reached that conclusion by studying the Bible, that either Bush is making a radically different interpretation or that he�s basing his decisions on something other than the Bible.


You can (and do) justify the occupation in a number of ways, but the �flypaper� idea is a very poor way to go about it. Just as there are huge numbers of Americans who favor the war on terrorism, there are considerable numbers of anti-American fanatics elsewhere in the world. But the actual involvement of the vast majority of Americans in the war on terror won�t go any further than paying their taxes and flying American flags; likewise, the involvement of most islamo-fascists is limited to buying the latest Bin Laden/Saddam tapes and burning American flags. The danger of Al-Qaeda is that it serves as a delivery mechanism that puts otherwise impotent fanatics in a position to threaten America; it converts potential threat into actual threat.
France�s manpower superiority meant nothing in the Franco-Prussian war because it failed to get those men to the battlefield. The problem for the terrorists, likewise, is not in finding troops but in getting them to the battlefield � a problem we�ve solved by bringing the battlefield to them. We put up targets in their backyard, take casualties, and of course inflict them in turn � but what does it matter if we kill hundreds, thousands of fanatics as long as more, and the network for projecting them, remain?
Allow me to replace flies with mosquitoes and offer the following metaphor: in the short term we need to prevent mosquitoes from getting from their swamps to our homes (dismantle the Al-Qaeda network), with a long-term view towards draining the swamps (promoting democracy and prosperity in the Muslim world). The occupation can and should be defended on the latter grounds. But the idea of going in to put up flypaper in a swamp...thank god the administration isn�t trumpeting that.


Apropos your piece on the �Conservative Left,� there is an entirely different way of looking at it. Ninety-five percent of the world sides with the American left�s opposition to the war, yet you accuse the American opposition of being nativist and contemptuous of peoples of other lands. And the Bush administration invades another country against the wishes of the rest of the world and you praise it for its internationalism. The American left desires that the U.S. take more into account the views of the U.N. and you accuse the left of disengagement from the rest of the world. The Bush administration and its ideological supporters despise the U.N. and you praise it for its respect for the peoples of the world. And so on. Can it not be argued that the Bush administration�s new-found respect stops well short of actually seriously considering the views of other peoples and that what you are calling its internationalism is really its insularity and what you are calling its constructive engagement is really a kind of benign imperialism?


I don�t think you understand, Andrew, the fullness of the �squandering of sympathy� argument � the subtleties, if you will (although I don�t think they�re subtleties at all). Basically, most of us liberals/lefties feel that Bush & Co. blew the world�s fund of American sympathy by strutting so arrogantly post-9/11, by bombing the hell out of an already-ruined third-world country � Afghanistan � to further an agenda based solely on revenge (remember, this was not what the majority of people who had family and friends killed on 9/11 wanted) and by alienating the UN with their nothing-less-than-Imperial attitude. I mean, it�s one thing to go to the UN and present your case and diplomatically wrangle and come out of that experience with dialogue and compromise having ruled the day, but America�s Manichean �you�re either with us or against us� attitude, which kills diplomacy, dialogue, and compromise, is what the world had to deal with, so the world said no to the playground bully. Now that bully wants help, and the world is reluctant. Gosh, who but a legion of peaceniks and liberals and generally balanced people saw THAT one coming?


When I read Kaplan�s WSJ article, I though it was rambling nonsense, and when you called it terrific I knew I was right. According to you and Kaplan there are only two kinds of people: Those who think we should sit back and do nothing and those who think we need to occupy the entire middle east. There is no middle ground, no room to consider the possibility that invading a Muslim country with 140,000 troops could create more terrorists than it kills. No possibility that the long and hard occupation (which the neocons said would be necessary) could actually weaken us and our military by overstretching it and showing that despite the rhetoric, we don�t have the troops or the money to go it alone. No, the only answer was to wage war in a country with little or no connection to al-queda with absolutely no thought given to what the aftermath might look like. After all, in the last two years Israel has really stepped up the military pressure on the Palestinian terrorists, and it is working so well for them.


You say: �Reads like a screed against assimilating Haitian immigrants to me; and threatens violence against those who assimilate a little too thoroughly.� Sorry, but in this case your reaction strikes me as totally off-base. It reads to me like a call for self-respect, and a clever anatomizing of ethnic self-hatred.

I suppose I say this, in part, from the perspective of an unembarrassed Diaspora Jew and a grandchild of immigrants who does not feel at all conflicted about also being an American.

Also read the long letter from a Republican for Dean, and someone�s reiterating of all the anti-government findings of the Hutton Inquiry.

posted by Sully 9/16/2003 01:15:00 AM


Actually, this says it all about an anarchist-communist soccer match:

The first game, held Aug. 17 in Piedmont, tied 2-2 after it was shut down by local officials because the teams were playing on the field without permission.

Like you would expect anarchists to recognize local government�s control of the field? Or communists to accept that it wasn�t the people�s property?

Actually, we�d like to see neocons and paleocons do this. Would the former accept the referee�s decisions? Would the latter even show up?

posted by Sully 9/16/2003 01:07:00 AM


But, hey, who�s listening any more to that incorrigible old rogue? The blogosphere, that�s who.

posted by Sully 9/16/2003 12:59:00 AM


The big macher at the BBC, Greg Dyke, told the Hutton inquiry a couple of devastating things yesterday. First, he admitted that he had denounced criticisms of the BBC�s journalism without even checking whether the sourcing was accurate or fair.

In other words, he had done what about 876 right-wing warbloggers do every day.

posted by Sully 9/16/2003 12:58:00 AM


Can you imagine the howls of protest if I devoted as much space to gay rights as Mickey does to the intricacies of a California recall?

As if you don�t already? We�ll have to measure this at some point.

The real question is: why has it taken them so frigging long to replace those chads?

Maybe because all the money we could spend to do so is getting frittered away to carve �DON�T WORRY, IT�S NOT PERSONAL� on all those bullets that keep ending up in Iraqis that weren�t supposed to?

posted by Sully 9/16/2003 12:56:00 AM


Hey, I could have a kid, after all.

Actually, instead of screaming, we thought that might not be such a bad thing for him to do. Believe us.

posted by Sully 9/16/2003 12:52:00 AM


Sullivan, who a) has too many lame college-conservative-newspaper awards to take any of them seriously anyway and b) has been known to selectively and misleadingly quote others, naming an award after Maureen Dowd.

posted by Sully 9/16/2003 12:50:00 AM

Monday, September 15, 2003


Famously spaced-out (ask David Brock) former Wall Street Journal editorial editor Robert Bartley is the latest conservative to ponder the question: Why are the liberals and leftists actually putting up a fight?

This he actually manages to do, surprisingly enough, without the usual bile and vituperation that any discussion of the opposition usually gets him into. Perhaps, somewhere in that mad tangle of neurons, he realizes that this cannot be blamed on Clinton?

There are, of course, some of the usual factual inaccuracies and phantasmagorical leaps of logic, and � Bartley�s specialty � inconvenient facts omitted.

Why is the Democratic core so upset? I suppose you have to start, letting fairness outweigh judgment, with why they say they�re angry.

These people might be capable of the same passion as us? Imagine that!

The usual litany of GOP depredations against democracy starts with the impeachment vote led by GOP House members, proceeds through the 2000 Florida vote recount, then goes on to the redistricting controversy in Texas and finally to the Davis recall. Interestingly, Mr. Dean dropped impeachment, apparently preferring the company of Gray Davis to that of Bill Clinton. Perhaps he recognizes that if President Clinton had in fact been removed he would have been succeeded by Al Gore, who then would likely have gone on to win the 2000 election to the great benefit of the Democratic Party.

As if you would have read anything to that effect on the Journal�s ed pages if that had happened. Oh, wait a minute, it did. The Supreme Court just had other ideas.

Mr. Dean did round the �remove democracy� litany back up to its usual four counts by throwing in Colorado redistricting in addition to Texas. Gerrymandering of congressional districts is in fact about the ugliest wart on the American political system, but Democrats have been past champions. In Texas, court-mandated districts have basically perpetuated historic Democratic gerrymandering, so that in the last election they controlled the House delegation by 17-15 with only 44% of the statewide vote.

Democrats have famously been boycotting the legislature to keep Republicans from redrawing these districts, but a new special session starts today. The same basic issues arise in Colorado, where new GOP-drawn districts are now being challenged in court. But the issues aren't about overturning elections. To the contrary, they arise because of the 2002 elections, when Republicans won control of both legislative houses in both states.

Yes, Democrats have gerrymandered in the past ... as have majority parties in every state.

But Bartley apparently thinks this is such a historical evil that it justifies something with little precedent in American history ... a second redistricting in a decade. There�s nothing to prevent anyone from doing it, but it is one of those things that is so ripe for anti-democratic abuse that both major parties have traditionally refrained from. Until now.

Now, Howard Dean has seen elections overturned. In the 2000 elections in his home state, voters who pulled a Republican lever found their votes being counted for Democratic control of the U.S. Senate. Democrats did not consult the voters when they persuaded Republican Jim Jeffords to give them the crucial 51st vote in organizing the Senate.

Where to start ...

We know a few Vermonters, and we think that most of them voted Republican because that was Jim Jeffords� party, not the other way around.

But why should Bartley still be angry about this? The November 2002 elections negated it. Nor have Republicans told any legislators who switched to their party from the Democratic side (less and less lately, we�ve noticed) that they should get the voters to approve it first.

And Bartley, his president and indeed his entire party could learn from another election in the Green Mountain State: the 2000 contest that last re-elected Dean.

While the media focused on hanging chads in the other corner of the country, Ruth Dwyer, the Republican nominee, running hard against civil unions and basically (like New Jersey�s Bret Schundler) too conservative for her state, managed to draw 39 percent of the vote. With a third-party challenge from his left (sound familiar?), Dean won 50 percent.

Vermont�s current constitution requires that gubernatorial candidates win at least 51 percent. If not, the race is decided by the state�s House ... which had just been taken over by Republicans.

Dwyer looked at the numbers and saw she had a clear majority in none of the state�s 14 counties ... i.e., no realistic base from which to govern and an uphill road to hoe if she took office as the clear second choice.

She conceded that very night.

Remember, too, that Democrats also bent the rules to keep their U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey, booting scandal-singed Robert Torricelli when he fell behind in the polls.

Hmm. We seem to remember that a predominantly Republican New Jersey Supreme Court interpreted a somewhat-wanting statute to say that the state�s clear and compelling interest was in allowing voters a serious choice (like Doug Forrester would have lasted this long as a Senator, anyway). Bartley carefully leaves that out.

And if anyone had bent rules in New Jersey, it was the Republicans, when the state legislature they controlled rewrote the primary rules the preceding summer in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to keep Bret Schundler from becoming the party�s gubernatorial candidate.

What happened in Florida was that George Bush won every official recount, a result confirmed by the press-sponsored unofficial recounts. Also, Mr. Bush didn�t start the lawsuits; Al Gore fired the first writ.

Pish-posh. The Bush campaign filed first, hoping to stop votes from being counted in certain counties. Another Mighty Wurlitzer myth that refuses to die.

In the same election, John Ashcroft declined to go to court after he lost his Senate seat because votes for the dead man listed on the ballot were counted for his widow instead.

Maybe because he lost outright, and he knew it.

Even Richard Nixon persuaded reporter Earl Mazo to abandon the story that John F. Kennedy's forces stole the 1960 election in Illinois and Texas.

Never mind, of course, that subsequent historical research showed that Nixon had quietly encouraged the whole ballot challenge anyway.

While the Florida election was excruciatingly close, it is simply not true that the Supreme Court let Mr. Bush steal it.

Huh? What else do you call a Supreme Court decision saying Gore was theoretically entitled to another recount ... if he could get it done in two hours in the middle of the night? When courts in Eastern Europe or Africa issue decisions like that in close elections, we threaten the country involved with trade sanctions and condemn the election as non-democratic. Here, Republicans call it jurisprudence.

Angry Democrats may have convinced themselves otherwise, but again, why? The Democratic anger must have deeper roots, fit for speculation in a future column. When Democrats assert that the Republicans will do anything to win, their complaint is relevant only in terms of what psychologists call �projection,� finding your own faults in others.

Well, we prefer to think of it as �finding that you have the same fight in you as your enemies.�

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 09:31:00 PM


It�s TAPped�s turn to take a swing at Lawrence Kaplan�s Wall Street Journal piece.

Fighting terrorism has never been a Republican cause. In fact, it is a Republican president who is bungling the war on terrorism. It was a Republican president and his administration who resisted the creation of a Department of Homeland Security for months and, once he decided � after talking-points level deliberation � to allow one, avoided the most important reform: creating a domestic intelligence agency. It was a Republican president who pushed for a premature war in Iraq that did little to make us safer from terrorists, and in fact required the diversion of both intelligence resources and combat troops from the search for Osama bin Laden. (It was also the Bush administration�s initial eagerness to avoid too many boots on the ground in Afghanistan � no nation-building going on here! � that limited both Operation Anaconda and the assault on Tora Bora, allowing bin Laden to escape from our noose in the first place.) It is a Republican president whose aides attacked, undercut and subverted the intelligence institutions whose efficacy is crucial to ferreting out and fighting terrorists. It is a Republican president who has deliberately alienated those foreign allies who might have aided us with manpower and funding for Iraq, leaving our active duty military overstretched, our homeland security forces � reservists, many of whom are cops, EMTs, firemen and other homeland security first-responders in civilian life � deployed far abroad, and our Iraq coalition too lacking in troops to properly police the country. It is a Republican president who never once, in the wake of 9-11, used his bully pulpit to call on young Americans to volunteer for the military or its reserves, a move that might have alleviated � and still could � some of the strain our armed forces have labored under during the past two years of heightened alerts and longer deployments. As Jonathan Chait pointed out in The New Republic, it is a Republican president and his Republican allies in Congress who have consistently and repeatedly failed to appropriate funds for the most pressing homeland-security needs, from computer upgrades for the FBI, to improved security for ports and nuclear facilities, to hiring new customs agents. (Doesn�t Kaplan read his own magazine?)

Must run in the Peretz �family.�

Forget TNR. Does Kaplan read the newspaper? In fact, it is our Republican president who refuses to adjust his domestic policy priorities one scintilla to accommodate the need for a sustained and effective war on terrorism. It is our Republican president who will not sacrifice his irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy, which drain our treasury at a time when the effective occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan require, by the president�s own request, a massive amount of military spending. It is our Republican president who will not rein in his foreign-policy agenda of discarding or withdrawing from any international arrangement that might constrain American action, at a time when the goodwill and cooperation of other nations are essential for closing the door on global terrorism.

Fighting terrorism is a �Republican cause�? On what planet?

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 08:54:00 PM


You only have to listen to what pass for their arguments about the remarakable experiment now being attempted in Iraq to witness the sheer Tory pessimism of them all.

Aside from his inability to spell Arundhati Roy�s name correctly in his hed, what disturbs us about this is the use of the phrase �remarkable experiment� to describe our current Iraq adventure.

There was once before a time, and place, when the involuntary transformation of the lives of millions of people by an outside power, with great cost to individual lives, was referred to by its supporters with similar phraseology. It was in Ukraine and Russia in the early 1930s, and conservatives earned a lot of what they claim to be their moral chops by calling its Western sympathizers on it.

Now, with a terrifying disdain even for irony, they freely use the phrase themselves.

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 08:49:00 PM


Sullivan must be wondering how he�s going to be able to spin this.

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 08:42:00 PM


The Horse not only calls Sullivan�s advocacy of the flypaper meme �[a sad] attempt ... to put a romantic, competent, deliberate face on Bush�s haphazard buffoonery and failure,� they print this letter:

The most recent mass-produced delusion is that the massive upsurge in Islamic militarism and Al Qaeda recruitment that resulted from the invasion of Iraq is that this was the plan. The world�s terrorists, rather than striking at America, are instead attacking in Iraq. At the same time, America would completely rebuild Iraq as a stable and democratic nation, thus striking a terrible blow against terrorism.

This is certainly a psychologically attractive answer, and it is indeed true that a successful reconstruction and rehabilitation of that country would truly be a terrible blow. However, to claim that this was in any way part of an original plan fails the test of simple logic as no preparations were for this certainly more important step. There would have been a much different mix of troops, and there would have been more of them. There would have been a budget for the reconstruction preapproved, there would have been a governing structure prepared beforehand. There would have been stockpiles of wires and pipes to repair any damage to the infrastructure. Policies on the Baath party, religious groups, and the Kurds would have been prepared. While there are undoubtedly more examples of which I am not aware, the fact remains that basic and obvious steps were not taken for the supposed �plan� � so we must doubt the plan�s original existence.

This lie did not require detailed analysis to disprove. Simple logic has been sufficient.

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 08:41:00 PM


TBogg is the latest to catch Sullivan distorting material he links to to make a point ... this time, blatantly ignoring three words:

For the Sullivan impaired:

I�m suspicious that it's done for political purposes and that he really isn�t as religious as he makes out to be. But he might be. I don't know.

Al Franken, not even giving George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt

Is it me, or when Franken says �He might be,� isn�t he giving Bush the benefit of the doubt?

Is there nothing the Bush leg-humpers won�t say to justify soliciting contributions to their blog?

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 08:33:00 PM


Our reference to The Lovely Bones last week has converged into a point where we can directly use it to bash Sullivan.

As the ten million or so of you who have bought and read this surprisingly multilayered first novel probably remember, before the story of Susie Salmon proper begins there�s an anecdote serving as an epigraph in which Susie recalls her father shaking a snowdome as a child, in which Susie expresses concern for the little plastic penguin within.

�Don�t worry,� the father tells his daughter, who will be horribly murdered in the next chapter. �He�s trapped inside a perfect world.�

OK, we all know where the book goes with that metaphor, but that penguin is also beginning to remind of us of Andrew Sullivan. How else to explain his bold statement that �No one has yet accused Arnold Schwarzenegger of sexual harrassment of workplace underlings or rape.�

Hey, Blog Queen, in case you haven�t already, read this.

It�s only two years old by now.

(BTW, is anyone else struck by the similarity between Sullivan cooping himself up in Provincetown for most of the year, coolly observing and reflecting on the world, and Susie Salmon looking down on it from her idyllic afterlife? Except Susie�s more mature).

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 04:36:00 PM


Jesse joins those having fun with his emailer so clueless about Civil War history:

Something I�ll always admire about Andrew Sullivan is his unwavering steadfastness in the pursuit of reader mail that indirectly answers his critics by reiterating the exact point he was making before, but with half-assed factual �research� thrown in, almost entirely without attribution or proof.

I bring that up because he does it again, answering critics of the flypaper strategy who say that it doesn�t apply to a borderless, non-traditional group which favors suicide attacks and doesn�t operate by traditional military pointing out how it sort of applies to traditional armies operating by traditional military rules.

We who have tried to correct him salute him.

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 10:05:00 AM


We were very glad to see that Jim Capozzola has recovered from turning 40 (ugh, to be so close in age to Sullivan!) and is back to posting somewhat regularly again.

Maybe the fact that his birthday comes so close to Sully�s is why he took these potshots at Sullivan in the course of making other points:

Sorry, Marty, while the latter may be dead, a million apologies won�t make up for the disaster you made of your wife�s dowry by employing the likes of Andrew Sullivan and Michael Kelly.


That�s fine, but in the absence of additional �ka-chings,� I may soon find myself throwing an Andrew Sullivan-like fit, threatening to take all my marbles (or what remain thereof) and go home, and pout, and stomp my feet, and fuss, and cry, and dream about hairy bears and stuff.

Ah . . . and to make things worse, I may even write about such things.

Hell, like Sullivan, I may even throw my own self-pitying Jerry Lewis-style �telethon,� begging for contributions to fix up the seaside condo that, in my case, I don�t own, or perhaps the in-town pied-�-terre that, again in my case, I also don�t own.

Listen, this is a guy, Sullivan I mean, who collects well over $100,000 in two separate pleas for donations and still claims not to be taking �a salary.�

Yeah, right. I hope you�re not buying that crap.

posted by Sully 9/15/2003 10:01:00 AM

Sunday, September 14, 2003


We hit a nice trifecta this week in terms of links from bigger blogs: Tom Tomorrow, Avedon Carol and finally Justin Raimondo, who playfully links here when using Sullivan�s name when he takes on the flypaper theory:

God, how I wish it were Sullivan and not some wide-eyed innocent from Idaho patrolling the mean streets of Baghdad. Let Andy take a bullet for Israel!

Is it really possible for anyone but a moral monster to praise the �beauty� of a strategy that treats American soldiers like sacrificial lambs, moving targets in a shooting gallery, totally expendable? To say nothing of how it treats the Iraqis � who are discovering that the �liberation� of their country means turning it into a charnel house. A more profoundly evil scheme would be hard to imagine.

Aside from its appalling immorality, �Operation Flytrap� won�t protect us from terrorism. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says �We�re killing, capturing terrorists in Iraq which is a whale of a lot better than Boise.� But what would bring them to Boise to begin with is a desire to avenge what happened to Baghdad, and, at least so far, the U.S. government can�t stop them from coming: if ABC News can smuggle depleted uranium into the U.S., imagine what horrors Al Qaeda could import to our shores. To think that our strategy is to rile up this hornets� nest is to realize the madness of our leaders.

Given the reality of the �Flytrap� strategy, it ought to be clear, by now, why the biggest opponents of the Iraq war are senior military officers, both active and retired. To them, this is a truly monstrous idea, one that makes a ghoulish mockery of everything they have ever believed and fought for.

The childlike innocence of evil, the complete absence of any moral sense, prevents Rumsfeld and Sullivan from seeing themselves as monstrous. In their own minds, they are legends: Sullivan thinks he�s Orwell, and who Rummy imagines himself to be � Napoleon? Caesar? God the Father? � is more information than I need to have. Suffice to say that they see themselves as the Good Guys, idealists even, and they are genuinely shocked when ordinary people (as opposed to those who inhabit the Washington Beltway) express revulsion at their ideas.


As a prime example of the Court Intellectual, whose job it is to flatter and fawn over the wit and wisdom of royal personages, Sullivan does a good job of rationalizing the disaster that unfolded after our �victory� in Iraq. It was all part of the plan, you see: Bush isn�t trying to pacify the country. His goal is, rather, to �continue waging war against terrorism.� The chaos is intentional. As death comes knocking on the doors of the families of American soldiers killed in the escalating conflict, Sullivan has the nerve to write: �Opportunity knocks.�


What Ledeen is afraid of is what Sullivan doesn�t have the sense to see: that normal people are repulsed, instead of attracted, to this callous cruelty. The sheer nastiness of the neocons is what has many people, both right and left, utterly appalled. They are horrified that a flock of bloodthirsty shrikes has commandeered the nest in Washington, and they listen with unease � and growing disgust � to the triumphant war cries coming from that direction. Ledeen is trying to tone it down, but the guilty secret of the neocons is out. They are moral cretins, with no more sense of right and wrong than any of the other crazed ideologues with a murderous �historic mission,� as Ledeen puts it � and just as dangerous.


posted by Sully 9/14/2003 02:39:00 PM


Meanwhile, Jo Fish takes issue (and then some) with another emailer�s history of another war:

I guess that not only does Testosterella, Queen of the Dunes have a platinum Blast-Fax subscription, she has also been drinking the Kool-Aid by the pitcherful. In what has to be one of the most egregious �rewrites� of history according to St. Andrew, or perhaps revisionism would be a better word, she brings up a letter quoted in email written by a young RAF pilot during WWII (that�s important context, but Sully seems to think not). The writer of the letter quoted is having a conversation with another pilot about fighting the war against the Third Reich and it went like this:

[email deleted; you already read it]

Sully wants to equate the mythical global threat of the Iraqi Madman, Saddam with the very real threat that was Adolf Hitler? Talk about bald-faced, gold-plated revisionism. If I were him, I would go read the counts of the indictment against the Nuremberg Defendants and see who they fit more closely, Saddam or President Preemption. Or maybe Sully has become a Berlusconian ... Hitler would have just sent us all on �vacation,� with Platinim Credit Cards and Free Water Bottles, right?

The current theme running around the internet is that republicans just make this shit up. They do, and it starts with Primo Media Whores like Sullivan ... a huge megaphone; a teeny brain. Sounds right. I wonder if he�s looking for Black Shirts to match his new political views...

posted by Sully 9/14/2003 02:28:00 PM


We�ve been taking the weekend off, but Roger Ailes has more than taken up the slack, first by noting how much the offerings of the Conservative Book Club, flogged occasionally on Sully�s site, take issue with his views on gay marriage, and indeed with homosexuality in general (without offering a competing view), then having a little fun with his emailer who compared the flypaper strategy to something Sun-Tzu would have advocated. (Also check out the comments, which have the best single soundbite shootdown of the strategy we�ve yet read:

If �flypaper� is such a deviously brilliant strategy, how come we never heard anything about it till the flies showed up?

Repeat and distribute far and wide.

posted by Sully 9/14/2003 02:20:00 PM

Powered by Blogger


All material on this site copyrighted by author or authors.



Blogging the Blog Queen


“appl[ying] a magnifying glass to Andrew Sullivan’s performing-flea antics” – James Wolcott, Vanity Fair, April 2004.

Passionate rebuttal to Andrew Sullivan's frequent rants.

The Guardian

sullywatch AT

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More


There Is No Crisis: Protecting the Integrity of Social Security

Also see:

Smarter Andrew Sullivan (on hiatus, alas)

More blogs about Andrew Sullivan.

And for satire:

Neal Pollack (on hiatus as well)

Our inspiration:

Media Whores Online (presently out to pasture, but hopefully to return soon now that they are needed again)

Other watchers:


WarBlogger Watch

LGF Watch




DeCal (Cal Thomas)



The Daily Howler

Media Matters


The small village of bloggers who try to keep Sullivan honest (among other things):


Democratic Veteran

By the Bayou


Best of Both Worlds

Steve Brady

Other blogs of interest:



The Daily Kos

The Rittenhouse Review

Roger Ailes


Max Sawicky

Very Very Happy

Talking Points Memo



No More Mister Nice Blog

Steve Gilliard



Abu Aardvark

Ted Barlow (now at

Crooked Timber)

CalPundit (now at the Washington Monthly as Political Animal)

David Ehrenstein

Brad Delong

World O’ Crap

Tom Tomorrow

Oliver Willis

skippy the bush kangaroo

Public Nuisance

Bruce Garrett

are you effin’ kidding me?

Light of Reason


Onanism Today

The Suicide Letters

The Antic Muse (now Wonkette)

Sadly, No!


Anonymous Blogger

Scoobie Davis


Baghdad Burning

Whiskey Bar

Busy Busy Busy

We Report, You Deride


The Tooney Bin

Adam Kotsko

Nasty Riffraff

A Brooklyn Bridge

Suburban Guerrilla

Dave Cullen

Approximately Perfect

Trust me, you have no idea how much I hate Bush.

Beautiful Atrocities




Also worth checking out


The Cursor

Journal of American Politics

The George Bush AWOL Project

The Daily Kos



Greatest Hits (ours):


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

Online here exclusively.


Why we blog the way we blog

A reply to some legitimate and friendly criticisms from Andrew Edwards


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!