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

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


Saturday, October 04, 2003


Abu Aardvark (no typo this time!) on Sully�s reaction to the Kay report:

Andrew Sullivan on the Kay Report: �Having read the report carefully, I�d say that the administration is vindicated in every single respect of that argument. This war wasn�t just moral; it wasn�t just prudent; it was justified on the very terms the administration laid out. And we don�t know the half of it yet.�

In other news, Brewers win World Series! Brewers win! No, don�t bother clicking on the link � that�s what the story says, I tell you. Okay, well, who are you going to believe, me or the liberal media? Of course the newspaper says that the Brewers didn�t even make the playoffs, but what would you expect from a liberal media deeply committed to the Brewers failure? They won�t be able to hide truth for long, though. Once the Milwaukee fans come pouring into the streets, drinking beer and throwing bratwurst, even the liberal media will have to admit the truth. For now, you and I and all true Americans know the truth. Brewers, we salute you.

I suppose that this is one approach to the Kay report, what I guess we now have to call the Fox News Approach � simply lie, distort, or remain willfully self-deluded, confident in the fact that others will happily share your delusion. Reality is nothing but opinion, a report that says �we found no WMD� becomes one that says �we found WMD,� and as long as you keep saying so then it must be true. So there you go, FoxBloggers � there�s the talking points!

And adds a reponse to a reader comment in his next post:

The Iraq hawks such as Sullivan made a lot of claims with great confidence, and repeated them often, and rather viciously smeared and belittled everyone who disagreed. Those claims have now been proven false. Sullivan does not want to confront that. Hence, not much of a serious debate to have. What is worth discussing is that the war was based on clear claims, which if true could command support for a preventive war: that Iraq had a WMD program that threatened the US, that inspectors had failed to meet that threat, and thus war was necessary � if not now, then after the mushroom cloud. Kay�s report is clear. There was no WMD program which posed such a threat, and the inspectors had successfully contained the threat. Lowering the bar retroactively is fine politically (dishonest, but to be expected), but it�s important to not forget the claims made at the time.

We�d also praise him for being the latest to discover that Sullivan clearly hopes his readers will take his word for it and not follow the link.

Via Abu�s link cosmos at Technorati we also find this discussion of an AP story on Yahoo about reactions to the report (not about Sullivan specifically, but worth reading) from new blogger Rodger Payne:

The �mobile biological facilities� that Colin Powell played up on ABC TV just this past weekend �were not ideally suited for biological warfare production.� Maybe next week one of the chat shows can get Kay to debate Powell and Cheney?

Seriously, when is the administration going to start talking about the actual evidence, rather than repeating and repeating the fantasies from last October, or January? Powell is virtually no better than Cheney in this respect. Of course, Powell knows that his personal credibility is on the hook � and he�s apparently having a hard time dealing with the facts.

Another notable point from the story is a quote from Kansas Republican Pat Roberts, who said, �I�m not pleased by what I heard today.�

That is an incredibly partisan statement. Since the failure to find evidence makes the administration look like lying, smirking chimps, I guess Roberts is unhappy about the domestic political consequences.

However, isn�t it actually very good news that Iraq didn�t have WMD? They were almost surely unable to threaten the US � and could not have passed nasty weapons along to terrorists?

Can't we admit that some fears are overstated?

Yahoo sandbags this quote until last:

Multiple sources have told the team that �Iraq did not have a large, ongoing, centrally controlled CW (chemical warfare) program after 1991,� Kay said. And information found so far suggests that Iraq�s large-scale capability to develop, produce and fill new chemical warfare weapons was �reduced � if not entirely destroyed.�

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 07:30:00 PM


We�d be real careful using that term �Eagle,� Sullivan, if we were you. You do not want to go there.

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 07:22:00 PM


It was inevitable, of course, that Smalltown Boy would attempt to address the obvious �What about Clinton?� comparisons, and while engaging in basically a lot of hairsplitting naturally makes Schwarzenegger look good, even as more allegations than were ever leveled against Clinton surface in the wake of the LA Times story alone (thanks Hesiod for the link).

But while doing so, Sullivan makes this passing statement:

Clinton used state troopers and federal buildings to abuse and manipulate women.

Take note of those third and fourth words.

They can only be references to the late, unlamented, American Spectator�s Troopergate story, whose author, David Brock, admitted last year that he put any salacious allegation he got in no matter how dubious or uncorroborated, and some were later proven false by simply being checked out (for example, the claim that Clinton got head from someone while in the guard�s booth at the Little Rock governor�s mansion was debunked by reporters who simply went to the scene and found that it was impossible to have seen the booth from where the troopers claimed to have seen it). Ultimately the troopers themselves turned out to have serious credibility problems when it was revealed that they had attempted to cover up a drunken-driving accident while on duty, and then it turned out that unbeknownst to even Brock the troopers were being paid for their testimony. All of their wild stories collapsed upon interrogation under oath by Ken Starr�s prosecutors.

Why is this important? Because Sullivan has written much trying to put distance between himself and the garden-variety Clinton-haters who ate this stuff up a decade ago. He also spent a great deal of time last year launching every desperate salvo he could to discredit Brock (Nobody hates an openly gay ex-conservative like an openly gay conservative, kind of like the way, as Roy Cohn put it, American antisemites would use one Jew to get another), to the point that Brock discusses this at some length in the introduction to the paperback edition of Blinded by the Right.

But, whenever the argument gets heated, Sullivan reaches for all the dirty allegations like an old friend. And calls Clinton a sociopath again to boot (although we have to ask him: if Clinton�s behavior is sociopathic, what does that suggest about clandestinely seeking unprotected random anonymous sex when one has a terminal disease most frequently spread through exactly that sort of behavior?

He reminds us of Soviet citizens who disparaged everything they read in their official media as the BS it was, but then when things got really going in arguments would be the first to cite something they had read recently in Pravda or Izvestia.

One has to wonder just how much of Sully�s high-mindedness on this issue is just for show, and suspect that deep down inside he�s as frothing a Clinton-hater as your average Joe calling his local afternoon talk-radio host.

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 07:19:00 PM


From the heavily-blogged Editor & Publisher article on Judith �Mr. Chalabi, Call On Line One!� Miller:

There is a widespread perception among staff that her work has brought dishonor on the newspaper. The perception that she�s protected at the top is widespread, and the reluctance of editors to penalize her adds to that, one of my sources said. ... One of the deans of political writers at the Times tells me: �It makes no sense [but] the only thing I can think of for that clap-trap going into the paper without adequate reporting safeguards -- maybe sniffing the Raines?� Once reporter Steve Engelberg (he is said to have spent a good portion of his time keeping Miller honest) left the three-dimensional investigative team of Engelberg, William Broad, and Miller, �she had a free ride under Howell and Boyd to do what she wanted. They protected her....�

As Abu Aadrvark asks, �C�mon Sullivan, c�mon Kaus � where�s the outrage?�

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 12:31:00 AM


Abu Aardvark on the Kay Report:

David Kay makes it official: no WMD in Iraq. This has been coming for so long that a lot of people will shrug this off as no big deal. But some of us remember listening to (and being lectured by) conservative critics of first UNSCOM then UNMOVIC for years about how we knew, we absolutely knew, that Saddam had WMD and the failure to find them was simply evidence of the inspectors� collective incompetence. And more of us remember the Bush administration�s rhetoric in the runup to the war, which was overwhelmingly about the threat posed by Iraq�s WMD and the inability of the UN to meet that threat.

Let�s cut the conservative blather and smokescreens on this, okay? They were wrong. David Kay was their guy, he had every chance to find the WMD, he couldn�t, and they have nobody to shift the blame onto anymore. The professional arms control community and the academics and analysts who put their confidence in the UN teams were right. That�s the significance of the Kay report, full stop.

This matters, and matters a lot, not only for arguments about the war, but also for the future of national security policy, and international security arrangements. So before rushing into the next round of political warfare, let's all take a deep breath and give this the serious recognition that it deserves.

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 12:26:00 AM


Of course, if Sullivan isn�t having a week so bad that even doubles on the testosterone smears and watching videos from the International Mr. Leather competition can�t cure it, this will do it (as Hesiod suggests).

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 12:19:00 AM


Matthew Yglesias at the newly-byline-using TAPped deals with Taranto�s spinning:

Conservatives really ought to stop covering for the administration on this story. It�s perfectly possible to admit that something bad has happened here without becoming an enthusiast for refundable tax credits, affirmative action, the United Nations, universal health care, public education or whatever else it is that they don�t like about the left. Currently, only the ethics and credibility of a few people working in the White House are at stake and there�s no reason for the entire movement to cover itself in the sins of its fellow-travelers. Here�s some advice to conservatives: Just say, �Look, this is bad, but on balance I still think Bush is better than the other guys.�

Great advice, Big Media Matt. One wonders why conservatives never said the same to liberals back in 1998.

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 12:14:00 AM


But most of the enormous risks did not come about: no use of such weapons, no massive destruction of oil wells, no fracturing of the country, no terrorist revenge or resurgence.

�Proof of Trotsky�s superior predictive abilities is that none of his predictions have come true yet�

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 12:11:00 AM


One of the crazy premises of the "Where Are They?" crowd is that we would walk into that huge country and find large piles of Acme bombs with anthrax in them.

Hmm ... we always considered that one of the crazy premises of the pro-war crowd.

That�s not what a WMD program is about; and never was. Saddam was careful. He had to hide from the U.N. and he had to find ways, over more than a decade, to maintain a WMD program as best he could, ready to reactivate whenever the climate altered in his favor.

The same U.N. that conservatives always ridiculed is now a potent enough force that Saddam had to worry about it?

Bottom line: What we get out of the Kay report was that Saddam never stopped desiring to acquire WMDs, and maintained minimal capacity to begin that again once the world�s attention was diverted, once sanctions were lifted.

That�s bad, OK. But how many other countries does that description fit? Quite a few (one of said countries, North Korea, is busy going nuclear with the terrifying acquiescience of the Bush Administration). By Sullivan�s logic we have to go invade them right now.

The fact is that the rest of us also saw that Saddam was getting old, that he might not hold on that long, that his grip was loosening. In retrospect it�s unanimously agreed that it was a mistake not to support the Shiite uprising in the south in 1991 ... we missed an opportunity to allow the kind of loosening of his control that benefited Kurdistan tremendously in the intervening decades.

But sometimes the only thing worse than making a mistake is trying to undo the original mistake (that�s why it would not be smart at this juncture to withdraw from Iraq). A full-tilt invasion of Iraq to depose Saddam was hardly the only arrow in our quiver when it came to containing both him and his WMD programs. Yet to Sullivan and Bush, there was no in between. We honestly believe that, say, occupying southern and western Iraq to cut them off from land trade and enforce sanctions more strictly would have been something that could have worked. Then the entire country's borders. Then Baghdad Airport.

But, of course, what�s all that when you can�t be honest to the American people about your real goal: remaking the Middle East through the direct application of American power?

posted by Sully 10/04/2003 12:08:00 AM

Friday, October 03, 2003


Translation: Saddam was lying to the U.N. as late as 2002. He was required by the U.N. to fully cooperate. He didn�t. The war was justified on those grounds alone. Case closed.

Boy, Andrew, you really do look cute when you�re angry.

This is really scary. If lying to the UN about this sort of thing not only justifies war but makes it morally compelling, how many countries better keep their powder dry? We really hope it�s the immense cognitive dissonance Sullivan, and indeed every other conservative, has been experiencing this week talking.

That must explain why neither Sullivan nor anyone else on that side of the fence seems terribly bothered by the fact that North Korea, unlike Iraq, isn�t sneaking around ... they�re actually coming right out and saying they�re building nukes. Yet we hear from the White House that it�s a bluff, that they�re just jockeying for better position at the next attempt to talk this all through. All we can say is, what would they have said if Clinton had said that? And juxtapose that nonchalance with the excoriation of Democrats and the French for supposedly being similar untroubled.

Then again, it makes perfect sense that they wouldn�t care ... after all, since a foreign leader lying about having WMDs obviously has them, a foreign despot who comes right out and says he does obviously doesn�t.

Clip and save that statement for conservatives to refresh their memories when the radioactive ruins of Seoul or Osaka are being cordoned off. Perhaps then they will see that their moral failings have eaten their moral virtues alive.

The benefit of taking some time off is that we can go look over what everyone else has done about this. Roger Ailes probably says the most with the least.

posted by Sully 10/03/2003 11:55:00 PM

Thursday, October 02, 2003


Look for Mickey Kaus to gently chide Andy later today for his Sulli-spin on the LA Times story.

First, Sullivan is completely wrong about none of what�s described rising to the level of legal sexual harassment. Because if this incident doesn�t do it, what does?

He remained seated, she said, and he slipped his left hand under her skirt and grabbed her right buttock.

�He just held on. He held on and said, �You have a very nice ass.� He said, �I�d love to work you out.��

�I remember thinking his hand was cold on my butt,� she said.

The door was open and the secretary said she remembers seeing a couple of people outside look in � and then quickly look away.

�All I was really thinking was, �I�d like to go.� I was trying to figure out how to get his hand off my butt and his arm away from me without making a big deal of it. I remember thinking, �Geez, that�s a strong arm.� ... I was just thinking, �Let me get out of here.��

She said she looked at the ceiling and looked at her boss, who kept repeating, �We�ve got to go now. We�ve got to go now,� and yanking my arm. My boss did the best she could to get me away.�

The secretary said Schwarzenegger released her after about 20 seconds.

Andrew, just because it�s wank material for you does not make it OK.

And it may just be more than sexual harassment, too:

Section 243.4 of the California Penal Code

(e) (1) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery, punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.


2) As used in this subdivision, �touches� means physical contact with another person, whether accomplished directly, through the clothing of the person committing the offense, or through the clothing of the victim.
(f) As used in subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (d), �touches� means physical contact with the skin of another person whether accomplished directly or through the clothing of the person committing the offense.
(g) As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) �Intimate part� means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.

If Sullivan had read his good friend and former TNR colleague Kaus�s blog as much as he says he does, he�d have known that this story was coming for weeks. Kaus in fact accused the Times of sitting on it.

Nor is Kaus so dismissive.

1) It seems hard to question the truthfulness of the the complaining women found by the Times -- at least 5 of the 6, anyway. And it would be a big mistake for the Schwarzenegger people to try to discredit them, I should think. 2) The A.S. behavior described is ugly, along the lines of what we�d been led to expect. It�s ugly in a particular way: he's not a normal horny groper. He seems to have always enjoyed using his star power to humiliate people on occasion.


4) Do the incidents fit the technical definition of sexual harrassment? At least two � involving crew members � seem like good candidates. Another incident, on a street, might be some sort of assault. More legal analysis, please! There�s one second-day story.

See above, Mickster.

posted by Sully 10/02/2003 09:50:00 AM

Wednesday, October 01, 2003


Eric Alterman joins the fun:

Andy Sullivan, as if taking a wrong turn from the mens� room in Rick�s American Caf� and discovering a gambling den in the back, writes, �If this pans out, it really is an outrageous piece of political malice. I may have misjudged this one at first, because I couldn�t quite see the motive behind it.� If this pans out? Hello? �This� is the way they do things in the Bush administration. Somebody crosses them and bang, nothing � not even the identity of CIA personnel and the laws of the United States � is going to stand in their way of trying to ruin him. Did you see what they did to the triple-amputee Max Cleland? Did you see how they used McCarthyite tactics against Tom Daschle?

He�s also got some stuff worth reading on what a true piece of shit Novak is.

In fact, he may have provided all the explanation we needed right there as to Novak�s motives, i.e. the supposed cognitive dissonance between his opposition to the war and his doing the bidding, whether intentionally or not, of the Bush administration.

It�s been rather obvious throughout the course of Novak�s career that he�s more or less a gossip columnist who accidentally became a political reporter (and a rather good one at times, one has to concede). He just can�t stop getting off on screwing someone over, and this was a clear chance to do that, no matter to what end.

So it�s hardly a surprise. Hell, it would have been a surprise if, knowing this, he hadn�t published it.

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 08:40:00 PM


Quiddity Quack helps you keep track of which Bush apologist is using which line of defense in the burgeoning Plame scandal.

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 08:36:00 PM


Jim Cappozola speculates on the reasons for so many posts about Vice.

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 06:52:00 PM


We haven�t been able to listen to the audio of that old SNLsketch, but we do seem to recall that Hartman-as-Reagan does not speak Russian in the sketch, only some unidentified Asian language and German.

And since when has that sketch become a classic? It is funny, largely because it played so well against the stereotype, but at the time we don�t particularly recall anyone saying it was a classic sketch. Nor since, until we recalled it in blog comments somewhere and someone else did, too, and then it was in a recent Nation column by Katrina vanden Heuvel.

At the time it came out, we mainly recall most SNL-related discourse being about how the show sucked and was having its worst season ever (which no SNL season could be since the Doumanian year (1980-81, ending with Charles Rocket�s f-bomb on camera) was the absolute worst season ever).

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 05:29:00 PM


My own doctor-monitored testosterone-use has shown absolutely no damage to any of my bodily functions ...

We presume the brain is part of the body, after all.

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 05:25:00 PM


Sullivan�s slip into the �treacherous Wilson� meme here of course mirrors the Journal and every other right-winger�s final fallback talking point: But he was against the war! As Josh Marshall has reported, to them that�s the root of all this, sending someone unequipped with the secret neoconservative powers to see the truth beyond the truth, who could believe greater evidence than that of his own senses.

Of course, what�s ultimately going on here is the continuing war against the CIA, which childishly tries to distinguish potential threats from actual ones and is ignorant of greater geopolitical realities. This goes back to Team A vs. Team B (apparently scored in the latter�s favor at the time, although upon further review everyone agrees the match never need have been played), to the CIA�s underestimation of Iraq�s WMD capability after the Gulf War (a legit point for neocons), to the current grudge match.

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 05:23:00 PM


It would be nice if an editorial board like the Journal�s, that pioneered all sorts of (often worthy) investigations into the Clintons, could work up a smidgen of concern that someone�s CIA cover had been illegally blown.

Uh, Sullivan, given that you�ve taken the high road when referring to Clinton-haters in the distant and recent pasts, just what sort of investigations were worthy? The Foster suicide, which even Starr�s prosecutors said privately was a complete waste of their time? The �Clinton Chronicles� video, its list of supposed victims easily debunked? The rape allegations retracted by Juanita Broadrrick herself?

All of these received relentless heavy-breathing play on America�s zaniest editorial page, the same people who would later bring you �lucky duckies.�

Is it just possible Sullivan himself believes more of these in private than he lets on?

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 05:14:00 PM


We had to laugh as we read this:

First, I did not receive a planned leak.


The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue.


You know, Lenin had a phrase for reporters like that ...

And, Bob, where�s the suspicion you�ve been known to show in the past?

UPDATE: Kevin Drum is equally unimpressed.

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 05:03:00 PM


Actually, the more we read the Post profile of Wilson, the more we like him. In fact, it says a lot more about Sullivan that he would consider Wilson a pain in the ass.

Consider this:

In 1990, while sheltering more than a hundred Americans at the U.S. Embassy and diplomatic residences, he briefed reporters while wearing a hangman�s noose instead of a necktie � a symbol of defiance after Hussein threatened to execute anyone who didn�t turn over foreigners.

The message, Wilson said: �If you want to execute me, I�ll bring my own [expletive] rope.�

This toughness impressed President George H.W. Bush, who called Wilson a �truly inspiring� diplomat who exhibited �ourageous leadership� by facing down Hussein and helping to gain freedom for the Americans before the 1991 war began.

But, we guess, that doesn�t count as bravery to a man (if we can call him that) who has had the courage to ... walk out of a college cafeteria because someone was wearing a beret with a red star on it! Or who bravely stalked anonymous sex in the bars and bathrooms of several American and British cities in a noble but ultimately futile effort to show the human immunodeficiency virus it couldn�t stop a generation from seeking to pleasure itself!

Also, more to the point, Lucianne Goldberg was and is a major-league piece of shit. Linda Tripp is everyone�s favorite backstabber. Yet did having those people on TV do anything to avert Bill Clinton's impeachment?

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 04:58:00 PM


The Blog Queen�s studied cluelessness about the wrong done to Valerie Plame and our national security, his attempts to make mountains of molehills as side issues � does Wilson hate Bush? did Valerie Plame really work for the CIA for thirty years? � is drawing howls of mirth from all around the blogosphere.

Hesiod says he has revealed what an essentially political animal he is:

Sully and Glenn�s responses to the whole, Valerie Plame affair prove that their �outrage� over the statements of Trent Lott was completely phony.

It was nothing more than political expediency to jettison Trent Lott.

Now, when Bush�s ass is on the line, they act like they both had blows to the head, and are suffering from dementia.

Taking down Trent Lott was good for the party line.

Taking down Karl Rove and President Bush ... is not so good. Thus, they are not willing to face reality.

Actually, while we believe his outrage over Lott�s remarks was genuine, what was revealing about that was that he took four days to display it on his blog, hoping none of his big-media friends would read any other blog but his and thus realizing how late he was to that particular party.

Now, he can�t. He�s suddenly rediscovering information that was old and accepted as fact in mid-July.

It would be funny if it weren�t so sad.

Jo Fish is the harshest:

Attempting to ridicule the whole Plame/Wilson Affair has now become a full time job for the Princess of Printers Ink. As she keeps asking, in post after post, �what was her real job� and saying �I just don�t get it.� Seems that the lass has taken the Mays Position, which if I understand it correctly, only requires that you be stupid enough to stand out in the rain and willingly pay big dollars for truck-stop couture, i.e. being oblivous to the obvious; you�ll get wet while looking stupid in a cheap mesh cap and torn clothing. If Sully were a doctor (a truly scary thought) and someone walked into his ER with a gunshot wound, would he treat them for a head cold ... since he misses the obvious sooo well?

If it were any more obvious that the Plame affair were a scandal, we�d hire a skywriter to put it in the air over P-Town �they broke the law.� Unfortunately, unless the pilot were a republican and the plane made only right turns while writing, I don�t think Sully could read it. I guess that this doesn�t rise to the level of oral sex, presumably a subject that she is an expert on, unlike say ... journalism or even punditry?

Or maybe our lassie has just misunderestimated his hero, and this is the denial phase ... nah.

posted by Sully 10/01/2003 01:22:00 PM

Tuesday, September 30, 2003


David Brooks couldn�t possibly have chosen worse timing for his column, and it�s likely to be overlooked given the story breaking like the wind, but we�ll go after it anyway.

Essentially it�s another one of those attempts to create a phony equivalence between Clinton-bashing then and Bush-bashing now. All of these, as Josh Marshall pointed out weeks ago, ignore that most of the Bush-bashing has been in response to policies or actions taken by his administration; whereas the Clinton-bashing primarily focused on his personal life and past.

The salient point is Brooks� mea culpa conclusion.

And for those who are going to make the obvious point: Yes, I did say some of these things during the Clinton years, when it was conservatives bashing a Democrat, but not loudly enough, which I regret, because the weeds that were once on the edge of public life now threaten to choke off the whole thing.

No. What conservatives mean when they say things like this is that they never expected liberals would, or could, turn as nasty as they did. That is the only reason things then got as far as they did.

We take columns like this as �mission being accomplished.�

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 02:49:00 PM


TBogg reduces Sullivan�s Plame ramblings to their essential source:

Pretend journalist Andrew Sullivan makes a half-hearted attempt to wrap his mind around the Plame affair that indicates that all of his research has come from a casual watching of Fox news. Perhaps he was distracted by his latest Reagasm.

It�s a good thing that Ronald Reagan has two legs. One for Andy to hump and the one that has Peggy Noonan permanently attached...

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 02:38:00 PM


Roger Ailes seconds one of our observations of this morning.

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 02:35:00 PM


Via Atrios, we read Brad DeLong on Shafer (and, by extension, Sully):

The White House has had eleven weeks to act, and has not done this. The cover-up is already eleven weeks ongoing, with the Bush White House hoping first that the CIA could be pressured into not making a criminal referral to the Justice Department, with the White House now hoping that somehow the Justice Department will make the thing go away, and with George W. Bush having �no plans� to ask any of his aides whether they are the ones who think it�s cool to blow the cover of CIA operatives actually trying to find weapons of mass destruction. It�s not just the two principals, by now it is virtually the entire White House staff who are accessories after the fact to a plan to aid and abet our enemies, et cetera.

Aside from which, Shafer�s perceptiveness on some media matters seems to totally elude him when he talks about intelligence. Atrios has already documented this absurd-on-its-face statement:

Leaving aside for a moment the questionable wisdom of keeping all covert agent identities secret ...

But we�d add, re Sully�s excerpt, that of course you�d expect an NOC CIA agent to not leave a Google trail. Is it not a virtue for a spy or intelligence operative not to draw attention to themselves?

And let�s insist right now on appropriate use of the word �undercover.� Ms. Plame was not an undercover agent. She did not adopt a false identity and pretend to be someone she wasn't for a long time.

She was covert. She worked as herself, ostensibly doing what Corn reported she did ... just passing information along to Langley. This is how a lot of intelligence is gathered.

And that�s all she did. No heroics of the kind that belong in thrillers you start before takeoff and finish as the movie�s ending. It can be dull work, but it�s important.

Unless reporters and investigators ferret out any new information, the Justice Department is not likely to find that any lasting harm was done to national security.

Perhaps you should tell them this yourself, Jack. You seem to know more than we do.

We suppose the damage isn�t significant ... if you don�t mind the potential compromise of every CIA operation Valerie Plame has ever been involved in and anyone who ever so much as bought doughnuts for the people in those operations. With all that that implies, as we discussed yesterday.

One of the Fray�s commentators, a Keith M. Ellis, administers a corrective:

I like Shafer, generally, but here I think he�s a bit behind the curve. Things probably look different to him this morning what with the FBI being handed the investigation, and Gonzales sending the email telling everyone in the White House to cooperate and to save all relevant materials. This is a full-blown criminal investigation, folks. An investigation of a criminal act with national security implications. Aside from all the other sources that are now confirming that Plame was a covert operative, even Gonzales�s email confirms it.

What I�d like Shafer to do is a little soul-searching and try to answer the question, �Why did he and all the rest of the journos get caught flat-footed on this story?� This story has been out there in its basic shape for two months now, and its clear that the press mostly didn�t think it was worth covering. I find that very interesting. I�m not asserting any sort of conspiracy or anything at all like that; but, rather, I intuit a blind-spot.

But let�s recap: A) Plame was without a doubt a �covert� CIA employee. I�m not sure if there are �covert analysts,� but, regardless, there have now appeared credible reports in the major press that indicate she was an operative who ran agents involved in WMD intelligence. B) Only a handful of people would know this. (May, over at NRO, says that he heard this �offhand� from someone. He doesn�t say when, or who ... which makes all the difference.) C) Novak was not the only person told about Plame. At least one other anonymous source says he/she was contacted by the White House and given a similar line as Novak. D) Contrary to what Shafer seems to think, finding out who these people are isn�t rocket science, nor will it be particularly difficult.

Shafer is wrong. This is a big scandal. There will be firings, at minimum (McLellan�s words); and probably a prosecution or two.

And if that isn�t enough, we learn from Atrios of a curious lag between when the White House staff was informed of an investigation beginning and when the Justice Department informed the White House. As Jesse Berney at the DNC blog Kicking Ass asks, �Since when does the Justice Department give people a several-hours head start to destroy evidence before an investigation begins?�

There was a time when rightwingers knew exactly what to call this sort of behavior when an administration indulged it.

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 02:33:00 PM


I�m just mystified by many details, I�m suspicious of multiple agendas swirling around, and think we know very little that�s categorical at this stage.

In other words, I know only what I read from sources I trust, and I have studiously avoided this story for months.

We know a lot more. It�s been out there. And it takes real work to imagine that there�s anything we don�t know that could make this all seem like a harmless little misunderstanding.

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 02:06:00 PM


Kevin reacts pretty much the way we did:

For chrissake, what�s the point of so many Bush defenders pretending to be this naive? Joe Wilson himself has already made it clear what the point of this exercise was, a point that�s obvious to anyone who�s spent even a few minutes around Washington: the leak was designed to intimidate anyone else who might cross the administration. This is what happened to Joe Wilson�s wife; don't let it happen to yours.

And then, more to the point, shows how right-wing bloggers are raising �asked and answered� issues:

All in all, this is a pretty disappointing performance from people who claim to take national security seriously.

The bottom line remains pretty much the same: A couple of top Bush administration officials blabbed about a clandestine CIA operative to the press in order to try to discredit her husband, and now they�re covering it up. Either you think that�s OK or you don�t. I don�t.

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 11:09:00 AM


George Cerny responds to Sullivan�s posting on Vice:

I have read Sullivan for a long time. I have sometimes agreed with him; more often I have not. But I have never before seen anything so damned stupid appear under his name. (Perhaps others have a better memory.)

If, Sully, insensitive condescension is cool and refreshing, then would you mind very much if I told you to go back where you came from, you limey bitch?

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 09:46:00 AM


So, first off, is Plame or is she not an under-cover CIA agent? The original �leaker,� Robert Novak, says no. The Post says yes. And why would CIA complain if it weren�t true? Surely this is findoutable. If she is not undercover, someone at the CIA can easily provide her job description and clear all this up.

As if getting the CIA to disclose even seemingly innocuous information happens just like that. There�s a thing called �sources and methods� that is often cited to prevent disclosures of highly relevant information to Congress, FOIA requesters, the courts, whatever. The Starr investigation is not how all these things go, Andrew.

If you read Corn�s story, and take into account that it has been confirmed by other sources that Plame is CIA, Sullivan, you�ll have all the answers you seek:

Wilson caused problems for the White House, and his wife was outed as an undercover CIA officer. Wilson says, �I will not answer questions about my wife. This is not about me and less so about my wife. It has always been about the facts underpinning the President�s statement in the state of the union speech.�

So he will neither confirm nor deny that his wife � who is the mother of three-year-old twins � works for the CIA. But let�s assume she does. That would seem to mean that the Bush administration has screwed one of its own top-secret operatives in order to punish Wilson or to send a message to others who might challenge it.

The sources for Novak�s assertion about Wilson�s wife appear to be �two senior administration officials.� If so, a pair of top Bush officials told a reporter the name of a CIA operative who apparently has worked under what�s known as �nonofficial cover� and who has had the dicey and difficult mission of tracking parties trying to buy or sell weapons of mass destruction or WMD material. If Wilson�s wife is such a person � and the CIA is unlikely to have many employees like her � her career has been destroyed by the Bush administration. (Assuming she did not tell friends and family about her real job, these Bush officials have also damaged her personal life.) Without acknowledging whether she is a deep-cover CIA employee, Wilson says, �Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career. This is the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames.� If she is not a CIA employee and Novak is reporting accurately, then the White House has wrongly branded a woman known to friends as an energy analyst for a private firm as a CIA officer. That would not likely do her much good.

Your move, Blog Queen.

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 09:37:00 AM


Despite Hesiod�s careful explications last night, Sullivan still can�t figure this out and comes up with the most outrageous right-wing spin on the Internet, beating out even Clifford May.

Not only does it expose further that Sullivan has absolutely no idea how intelligence works, it is so disingenuous and slanted as to require nothing less than a full-tilt fisk.

Joseph Wilson, for some reason, was picked to go investigate claims that Saddam had tried to purchase uranium from Niger.

�For some reason�? He was the charg� d�affaires in the Baghdad embassy during the Gulf War. He was a point person in the mid-�90s efforts to inspect and disarm Saddam. Think that isn�t expertise?

He came back and said � he didn�t write anything down, apparently � that there was no evidence that such a transaction had occurred.

Well, he did write something down, we think we recall, except it�s classified. As if the CIA is supposed to publish these results on the op-ed page of the New York Times?

Oh, and also, Wilson didn�t just report that there was no evidence of the transactions. He reported that it was, in fact, impossible for such transactions to have taken place.

When the Bush administration cited British sources for uranium from Africa (not specifically Niger), Wilson got his panties in a twist and wrote an op-ed for the NYT accusing the Bushies of distorting intelligence to wage war.

Sullivan just won�t let go of this, will he?

As many of us noted in the distant past of three months ago, if there was anything more credible than the Niger documents to back up the African idea, the administration would have used it over what even they probably knew were proven forgeries.

And Wilson was, again if memory serves, moved to come in from the cold by an allusion to his trip by some other administration figure, perhaps even to make it seem as if it was to give credibility to the Niger documents. Had the administration continued to play on the level, we doubt we�d know his name today.

Subsequently, somebody in the government � either at the White House or elsewhere � was talking on the phone to Robert Novak, anti-war columnist, and told him that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative.

We like that ... �either at the White House or elsewhere.� As if SAOs worked anywhere else (well, one who could does, at the Pentagon). Note also that Novak�s opposition to the war is brought up.

Conservatives have been trying very hard to make something of this. There�s nothing.

Anyone familiar with his career knows that Novak � at least once � was famous for his shoe-leathering and working the phones. He carries a lot of water, and owes a lot of people favors (Steve Mussina has a highly relevant past example). It wouldn�t surprise us if that was what was at work here, far more than his stance on the war.

Novak�s disclosure set Wilson off again, and he accused the administration of trying to wreck his wife�s career out of spite at his dissent, and subsequently blamed Karl Rove personally.

Gee, Sullivan is sure making Wilson look like a hothead who just flies into a tizz at the slightest little thing, isn�t he? Kind of like the way other people have long portrayed women ... or gay men, for that matter.

You�d also think that Sullivan would have a good deal of sympathy for Plame, over and above the legality of what occurred, as someone else for whom things she�d rather have been kept private were made public.

A few lefty writers made something of this on the web. Then it died down.

Funny how when righty writers, or ... bloggers make something of something on the web, he calls it overcoming the liberal media and making it irrelevant. When a few lefty writers (actually just about every blogger to the left of center, besides David Corn) make something of it, it�s inconsequential.

Then over the weekend, news broke that George Tenet was ticked off about the affair and an �administration official� (CIA?) told the Washington Post that two government sources had actually cold-called six hacks and �outed� Wilson's wife around the same time as Novak�s conversation.

Uh, what also happened is that the CIA referred the matter to the Justice Department, which it doesn�t casually do.

And why would it be news that George Tenet is ticked off? Would you expect him not to be?

Then last night, Novak said that Plame wasn�t an undercover CIA agent after all; and that no-one in the government had tried to call him with that information.

But that�s not what Novak said in the summertime, as Josh Marshall shows.

Yes, Blog Queen, you�ve missed nuances. And plenty of facts in the process.

posted by Sully 9/30/2003 09:25:00 AM

Monday, September 29, 2003


You knew Hesiod�s taunt wouldn�t last long (And Jesse�s prediction about the pleonastic opportunities is dead on. We had one but we chose to resist).

Anyway, now that he�s finally noticed the Plame story, previous practice dictates that he come up with some sort of way to minimize it.

But he knows (and admits) it�s a serious charge and probably, undeniably, something did happen. So he can�t say, as he did with Harken, that it�s a non-story.

So we get treated to a rare example of what Sullivan sounds like without any testosterone at all. First, a lame little heh-heh about toeing the party line. Then, a statement so pointlessly qualified it�s torturous:

Seriously, I have two questions that I don�t fully understand the answer to.

If you have the answer, even if you don�t understand it, you do not have questions anymore. You have new questions.

Then he betrays a complete lack of understanding of how intelligence works

But how is this revenge? Were they hoping to get her killed? That strikes me as far-fetched. Or fired? Why would leaking her name lead to her firing? But was she actually under-cover anyway? And wouldn't Wilson�s uxorial connections with the CIA actually buttress his credibility, rather than undermine it? Or am I missing something?

Uh, yes. A lot, actually.

Let�s get the facts straight. Mark Kleiman�s recent posts on this are as good a place as any to start.

Plame was, as far as anyone knew, an energy analyst at a private firm in the Washington area. She was also working covertly for the CIA, keeping track on certain governments� efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Nothing to base a weekly TV show on, but vital certainly, we think Sullivan would agree.

Blowing her cover will not get her killed, at least not in this country. But now everyone all over the world who deals in this business and her firm has to wonder if they unwittingly passed information to the CIA. An operation has been compromised. (After all, anyone with a scintilla of knowledge about how the Company operates knows that a firm that has one NOC (non-official cover, for those of you who don�t read intelligence memoirs or moderately well-researched spy thrillers, or even who saw Mission Impossible) rarely has just that one. Often, maybe the whole firm is a CIA front.

So think here. All of Plame�s coworkers are suspect. Foreign governments they have traveled to talk with will now not want anything to do with them, and may just kill them.

And anyone from foreign countries who dealt with them has to be even more afraid. Because some of those governments don�t particularly care much for the rule of law, and figure better safe than sorry.

The Post story sums it up:

She is a case officer in the CIA's clandestine service and works as an analyst on weapons of mass destruction. Novak published her maiden name, Plame, which she had used overseas and has not been using publicly. Intelligence sources said top officials at the agency were very concerned about the disclosure because it could allow foreign intelligence services to track down some of her former contacts and lead to the exposure of agents.

The disclosure could have broken more than one law. In addition to the federal law prohibiting the identification of a covert officer, officials with high-level national security clearance sign nondisclosure agreements, with penalties for revealing classified information.

Wouldn�t it be just what we need right now, to have a valuable WMD-tracking operation go pfooey because someone in the White House needed to score a point in the continuing feud with the CIA.

Josh Marshall, as usual, gives Sully the answer he needs:

We�ve heard a lot about how blowing Plame's cover was probably illegal and certainly dishonorable. But let�s walk through what the implications are.

Plame�s beat, if we can use that word, was weapons of mass destruction. And, of course, WMD is the big issue. It's why Iraq, why Joe Wilson, why Niger, why CIA referrals. That�s what�s at the bottom of all this stuff. Keeping WMD out of the wrong hands is, or was, Plame�s job.

If that�s her job you can figure that over the years she�s been involved in various operations aimed at tracking proliferation, worked with various human sources, all sorts of stuff like that.

Now Plame�s name has been splashed across papers all over the world. And the folks that leaked her name made sure that they used her maiden name, Plame � the one she did most of her work under � rather than Wilson, the name which I�m told she now goes by.

So now her name�s out. You couldn�t unlock everything just knowing her name � covers are used and so forth. But once you know Plame is CIA, and what she looks like and so forth, you unravel most if not everything. And now every bad-actor and bad-acting government knows that anything that Plame was involved with, any operation, any company she was supposed to be working for, any people she worked closely with, are probably also CIA or at least work with CIA. WMD bad-guys now know to steer clear of them.

Let�s say there�s some operation Plame hasn�t been involved with for a decade � but it�s still on-going. People will remember she used to be in on that operation and thus it6s tagged as an Agency operation and it�s useless. Everyone will know to steer clear.

Now, I have no knowledge of any operations Plame was involved in or covers she used. These are hypotheticals. But it gives you a sense of the sort of work she was involved in and the potential collateral damage of exposing her cover. And consider what her work was: protecting Americans from weapons of mass destruction. Chew on that irony.

Even if no one dies, Plame�s career is probably over. How can anyone else hire her for anything meaningful, without wondering if she isn�t still working for the CIA (remember, like the Mafia or the Church, you never really leave it)? Ditto for her coworkers. Do you think she and any of those people will be able to sue the White House? Given that most of the evidence that would make their case is classified, don�t bet on it anytime soon.

Of course her NOC status buttressed Wilson�s credibility, Sullivan. But that wasn�t the point. Why do you think the White House blew her cover? Again, it was so much more important to show those spooks in McLean who was really in charge than ... protect national security, or something dumb like that. It�s called cutting of your nose to spite your face. Having people like this in charge of national security is the answer to Osama�s prayers.

My other question is: who is the White House official telling the Washington Post these things? Since the information is damning, what�s his/her motive? To get the damaging stuff out there soon? To pre-empt an independent investigation?

Such a journalist question, isn�t it? At TNR he asked pretty much the same thing about the Iran-contra disclosures.

But maybe, just maybe, someone was disgusted that the administration would sink this low as to throw over a NOC to stick it to the CIA? Maybe someone believed that Bush actually meant what he said when he talked about bringing honor and integrity back to the White House. After all, didn�t you, Smalltown Boy?

So he ends with:

But the details are so murky and so anonymous at this point that I don�t think I can say anything more coherent than that. As with the Gilligan-Kelly affair, what we know at the beginning may be unrelated to the full scope of what we find out by the end. But I�m not ignoring it. Oh, hold on ... Karl�s on the line ...

In other words, this shit is making me seriously nervous about my hero so, after asking a bunch of stupid and irrelevant questions, I�m basically punting and trying to laugh it off.

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 09:15:00 PM


In the course of eulogizing Edward Said, Eric Alterman in passing describes Yassir Arafat as �self-serving� and �horrifically small-minded.�

Uh, shouldn�t this be noted and logged the next time Surly gets all worked up for an attack on Alterman over siding with the enemies of America and Israel?

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 12:30:00 PM


Wyeth Ruthven wrote this a while ago, and even though it targets Reynolds rather than Sullivan, it�s still pertinent and one of the funniest things we�ve read online in a while

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 12:25:00 PM


I went to my first white-trash theme party three years ago. I felt cool because John Bartlett was throwing it. We had corn-dogs and twinkies and malt liquor and wore half-mesh ball-caps. Maybe the �bear� trend is also a throw-back to '70s white trash culture. Ditto South Park Republicans, where the politics of the Red Zone has become the politics of the Blue-Red Set. Is all this hopelessly condescending? Maybe. But part of the refreshing nature of these trends is exactly their unconcern with whether they�re forms of condescension or not, or even whether they�re ironic or not. They�re just cool and insensitive. It took only one generation of political correctness to fuse the two. As Rolling Stone editor, Joe Levy, puts it, �If you have a bohemian neighborhood full of people drinking bad beer and wearing ugly T-shirts and trucker hats and dressing the exact same way as Justin Timberlake, it's real and it's ironic, and it's cool and it's uncool at the same time.� Exactly.

Watch Ana Marie Cox add this to her already extensive remarks concerning that article:

But, seriously, I don�t understand why anyone should be either defensive about or shocked by hipster conservatism. Being cool or hip is, by its nature, conservative: Exclusionary, status-seeking, rule-bound, elitist and devoted to, yes, conserving a specific set of ideas and principles. The only difference between the editorial board of Commentary and that of Vice is the size of their bar tabs at the Pink Pony.

On second thought, that comparison is probably unfair to Norman Poderhertz, who is both more thoughtful than McInnes and who has been wearing trucker hats since, like, 1999 at least. McInnes, really, has more in common with David Brooks, who also used to date Karen O, but whose views on immigration aren�t nearly so extreme.

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 12:21:00 PM


Not only is applying �Baathist Broadcasting Corp.� to the Beeb for an article about North Korea wildly inaccurate (unless you belong to the so-called �Batman� theory of neoconservatives that all of America�s enemies are collaborating despite a lack of outward evidence to that effect, since ... well, The Joker, The Penguin, Catwoman and the Riddler always used to team up against Batman), he blatantly and propagandistically misrepresents the hed on the story in the �literally accurate but technically misleading� way.

Here�s the actual hed and subhed on the story:

N Korea calls Rumsfeld �psychopath�

North Korea has launched a scathing attack on US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, calling him a �dictatorial psychopath.�

Sullivan obviously wants the reader too lazy or trusting to click on his links to think that the BBC itself called Rumsfeld a psychopath.

And as for the story itself not including any references to North Korea�s brutal totalitarian government, what are we to make of the following bits in quotes?

[Rumsfeld] said: �While the situation in North Korea sometimes looks bleak, I�m convinced that one day freedom will come to the people and light up that oppressed land with hope and promise.�


But Mr Rumsfeld is not the first to prompt the wrath of the news agency.

In August, US State Department official John Bolton was described as �human scum� for calling North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il a tyrannical dictator.

If anything, one wants to ask Rummy, when does the situation in North Korea not look bleak?

The story is actually a relatively minor one, about the North Korean government�s unusually strong outburst in response to Rumsfeld�s remarks, in other words about its foreign policy. Is its human rights non-record relevant? Perhaps. But its omission does not, we think, rise to the level of justifying an accusation that the story is slanted.

He�s really stretching for this one ... But then again, he tries to make up for it by confessing he�s a Dr. Who fan.

Anyone wanna bet he was one of those kids who ran around the playgrounds of South Goodstone squealing �Exterminate! Exterminate!� at the less muscular ones in his formative years? Wonder if one of those kids was one of the rugby players in his now-infamous diary?

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 12:12:00 PM


Bush�s recent passivity � silence, almost � may be less defenisveness

Yes, we make typos too, but we�ve never been the editor of a national magazine. At least publicly.

Nor have we ever bragged about how we don�t need editors and made fun of the mistakes of people who do.

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 11:54:00 AM


TAPped takes Sullivan out to the woodshed and has us singing that La�s/Sixpence None The Richer song at the same time as it refutes so many of his recent posts about Wesley Clark:

This is just silly and worse than glib, on many levels. A great deal changed about the Bush administration�s policy and leadership after 9-11, especially as the focus of the White House's antiterrorism policy shifted to Iraq. Before 9-11, we had reason to believe Bush would pursue a �humble� � in his words � foreign policy. (Indeed, Bush�s signal foreign policy initiative had been reaching out to Mexico on immigration and trade.) Condi Rice and Colin Powell, two of Bush�s chief foreign-policy advisers, were broadly identified with the internationalist foreign policy of Bush�s father. After 9-11, and more specifically after the Afghanistan war concluded, the administration began to show its inclination toward unilateralism, contempt for international institutions and outright hostility toward our longtime allies. Anyone who has read his book knows that all of these things are anathema to Clark. And anyone who has followed the news over the past year knows that Powell to some extent and Rice to a greater one have been complicit (albeit perhaps unwillingly in Powell's case). There is, in other words, every principled reason for Clark to have changed his mind.

Thence to his Rhodes Scholars obsession, which (in a rare error) TAPped seems to think is something new for Surly. But they do make this point that hadn�t occurred to us.

You also have to love Sullivan�s newfound distaste for Rhodes Scholars. Commenting on Clark�s earlier praise for Bush and his team, Sullivan writes, �You have to remember he�s a Rhodes Scholar and they tend to say anything to suck up to whomever they�re talking to� and that Rhodes Scholars �suck upwards and kick downwards.� Really? Does that include Sullivan�s boss at The New Republic, Peter Beinart? Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, with whom Sullivan interned at TNR back in the 1980s and later co-authored a book? Walter Isaacson, who published Sullivan at Time during his tenure as editor there? All three earned Rhodes scholarships. Do tell, Andrew.

And finally, when Sullivan looks askance at Clark�s commitment to doing anything serious for gays:

Well, Clark has also said nothing to separate himself from child pornographers, Red China and axe murderers, so there goes the nomination.

Who says National Review�s �The Week� section wasn�t influential outside of conservative circles, at least rhetorically?

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 11:46:00 AM


Jo Fish on the intellectual capacities of Sullivan�s readership.

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 12:39:00 AM


Roger Ailes says it isn�t Andy�s bad, it�s just bad.

posted by Sully 9/29/2003 12:21:00 AM


So where are the real blacklists, the real attempts to police thought, censor opposing views and ruthlessly promoote [sic] people on the basis of ideology, not merit? On campus, of course, one of the few places in America where the hard left still exercizes as much control as it can.

One would like to think conservatives need no longer do with this particular shibboleth, which as any real leftist could tell them is at least absurdly generalistic (as if ... as if there were no difference between, say, Purdue and Texas A&M on the one hand and Oberlin and Evergreen State on the other?) and as David Brooks would say if you read down farther than Sullivan did:

Jacob T. Levy, a libertarian also at Chicago, says some conservatives exaggerate the level of hostility they face. Some politicized humanities departments may be closed to them, he concedes, but professors in other fields are open to argument.

Hmm ... a conservative admitting that conservatives play the victim game they decry among liberals themselves. Keep it quiet and don't pass the link along. Maybe no one will notice.

But what always gets us is first, that conservatives actually expect this to be a level playing field for them. Since when, and where, have elite colleges and universities been known to reflect the general ideological dispersion of the greater population rather than skewing heavily to the left? What would they say if liberals started complaining about the heavily Republican tilt of most of the country's corporate executives, catalogued instances of people, say, losing opportunities for promotion and called for more balance? The same things, we suspect, that most liberals quietly mutter to themselves when righties blather on and on about how they�re so persecuted on campus and isn�t this just a horrible thing.

And what gets us second is that conservatives, who claim a grounding in natural law and a deference to certain things that are just the way they are, seem not to comprehend that it goes against all logic for a bunch of people who believe in a set body of ideas, differing only on minor points, to welcome into their midst someone who embraces the exact opposite and stands shoulder to shoulder with those who would attack those people for holding beliefs in those ideas? Yes, there is academic freedom, but there is also tact.

ADDENDUM: Abu Aardvark dispenses with the argument entirely:

Brooks complains that political conservatives have a hard time getting hired and face discrimination everywhere. He doesn�t have any actual examples or evidence of this, mind you � it�s just, you know, a sense that he gets. All the tenured conservative professors he asked say so too. The conservative newspapers on every campus he looked at say so too. And he was able to observe it on all his speaking engagements at colleges and universities to which the liberal thought police, um, invited him.

Plus, there�s lots of bright conservative PdD's working in Washington who couldn�t get tenure track jobs � which can only mean discrimination, since what other possible reason could there be for PhDs not getting academic jobs in the 1990s? Good thing there were all those think tanks and magazines ready to pay them nice salaries, huh? Because we all know that the discrimination faced by, say, blacks or Latinos or political scientists who use qualitative methodologies or single mothers always ends up in the hell of think tanks and political journalism.

He also links to Invisible Adjunct, who adds:

... [T]he unsuspecting reader might come away from this with the erroneous impression that a liberal professor need suffer no scruples about encouraging a liberal-leaning undergraduate student to go on to graduate school. Nothing could be further from the truth. Job market prospects and tenurablity aren�t only (or even primarily) about political orientation.

And thence to Crooked Timber, where Henry Farrell says:

... I think that Brooks exaggerates. While the average political scientist is somewhere to the left of the average punter, she isn�t all that far to the left. In my experience, most political scientists are moderate liberals, with substantial minorities who are real leftists, centrists, or mild to moderate Republicans. There aren�t many hardcore conservatives in top political science departments, but there aren�t many Marxists either. Indeed, I�d guess that there are rather more conservatives than Marxists � conservatives dominate certain areas of political theory (classical political philosophy) that most pol-sci departments have to offer courses in.

There�s also another factor that Brooks doesn�t talk about (although he hints at it at the end of the article). If you�re a young conservative, who�s just gotten a Ph.D. in pol. sci. or pol. theory from a good school, you have many attractive options outside the academy. Conservative think-tanks like Heritage and the American Enterprise Institute are remarkably well-funded (thanks to the charming Richard Mellon Scaife and other mega-millionaires), and provide direct access to the US policy process. They offer better pay (usually), more immediate recognition and more influence. It�s a wonder that any bright conservatives stay in the academy at all.

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

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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!