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

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


Saturday, November 08, 2003


The post on the 9/11 article we did in response to Sullivan�s attempt to paint it as antisemitic is down here.

posted by Sully 11/08/2003 11:37:00 PM


Leftwingers still working the �imminent threat� vein have got to do a better job calling Sullivan and the other hawks when they get together and gangs, pick up the goals and start walking with this:

We can fight over words in this way, but the fundamental reality also undermines Marshall�s case ... The actual threat hangs over us all the time. It is unlike previous threats from foreign powers. It is accountable to no rules and no ethics. We know it will give us no formal warning.

Trying to pin down war apologists (as Marshall�s contestants quite ably did, whatever Sully said ... we sort of like the notion that this was a desperate act; anyone reading TPM knows a) that Josh has always been rather stridently anti-Bush, it�s just that the facts supporting that position have become harder to ignore in recent weeks and b) the contest was not so much an act of desperation as it was to make a point about how much was out there to prove it) on this one is all very well. But then they react by saying, imminent or not doesn�t mean anything anymore, it�s all imminent all the time.

Well, besides the fact that Sullivan�s logic would have applied equally well to the Soviet Union in the early days of the Cold War, we need to remind the hawks and America that the whole reason for this debate is that, as Bush says so often in his speeches, we are a gentle people (pay no attention to all those people watching WWE, though). Maybe the hawks and neocons can live with this logic. But the American people will only accept a first-strike war if they believe they�re about to get Pearl Harbored. The administration knows this. The hawks know it, too, and what we are getting at by keeping this alive is that the Administration knew it could never sell this war to America honestly, that Dubya could never get up and say �We are doing this to create a situation where terrorists will attack our troops, where a lot of bad things will happen at first and things will seem to keep getting worse, but eventually we hope, if we�re a little lucky, that democracy will break out all over the Middle East like flowers after a spring rain and all will be well and disaffected architecture students from these countries will no longer feel like hijacking jetliners and crashing them into large public buildings in this country.� Nope, we aren�t a bunch of dialecticians and we don�t go for that.

The whole thing was a propaganda campaign from the start; conservatives should either respect the American public as much as they say they do and tell them the truth or forget the whole goddamn thing.

posted by Sully 11/08/2003 11:25:00 PM


Josh Marshall has the score on the supposed memo flap:

We all know how this works.

Two guys walk into a ring for a fight. One knows he�s about to get creamed. But he can�t bear the shame and humiliation of walking away from a fight. So at the very last moment he whips out some phony claim that the other guy�s cheating.

He puffs himself up with forced indignation. And huffily storms off.

Everybody knows it was bogus � the accused, the accuser, everyone else. But it gives the coward just enough of an angle, just enough of a smokescreen to get out of the place without having a glove laid on him and with a bit of his dignity intact.

This is of course more or less exactly what the Republicans are doing with the hullabaloo over this unsent Democratic staff memo.


The 'plot' is essentially a plot to have a real investigation ...

As I said in this earlier post, the Republicans are trying to use this memo ridiculousness to shut down any scrutiny of the intelligence related bad-acts in the lead-up to the war.

And they�re already starting. According to Newsmax, Newt Gingrich said yesterday that the president should refuse to cooperate with the committee altogether.

�I don't see how the White House can cooperate with an intelligence committee which has this level of partisanship,� he told Sean Hannity on Thursday.

See where they�re going with this?

posted by Sully 11/08/2003 11:09:00 PM


Jo Fish takes umbrage at the Kennedy-Bush comparison:

First he draws glowing parallels betwixt them ... beginning of course with a comparison of St. McHappyCrack�s behavioural reforms at age 40, when most of us have grown up and moved on long ago ... to Kennedy�s continuation of the party life ... hey, Captain Wi-Fi, let�s look a little further back to say their 20s ... LTJG Kennedy was a PT Boat skipper, truly responsible for the lives of others, 1st LT Deserter-Boy ... well, he was. All other comparisons, courtesy of a fevered brain ... to wit the 1600 Crew is responsible for �unleashing ... economic growth?� And the evidence of this is where, exactly ... straight from your ass, like most of the rest of what you write, I guess. Smells like ca-ca to me. Evidence that you actually do make shit up. Daily.

Of course, there is one somewhat unflattering comparison that we�ll agree to without reservation: both Kennedy and Bush began American involvement in lengthy wars debilitating to national reputation which other presidents had to clean up (or, if you prefer, extricate us from).

He also has an addition to the Right-Wing Blogging Rhetorical Dictionary:

Sullytaire: Playing a gay, catholic, republican and pretending to never be intellectually dishonest, ever.

posted by Sully 11/08/2003 11:01:00 AM


Whatever one thinks about the wink-wink nudge-nudge nature of this story about Prince Charles, Sullivan has some nerve going off on this tangent:

The days when monarchs got their heads chopped off are beginning to seem preferable to today�s privacy-free Internet sewer.

He ought to make full disclosure about why he feels that way. But it would have to involve admitting that the Internet protects the privacy of those who take steps to protect it, like, not putting up embarassing personal ads for risky sexual practices and expecting everyone to abide by some variant on �Don�t Ask, Don�t Tell.�

posted by Sully 11/08/2003 10:55:00 AM


When conservatism becomes mere mockery of black people, you really don't have to ask why so few African-Americans vote Republican, do you?


News flash: while the future Sage of South Goodstone was stomping round the ivory towers of Cambridge reading Oakeshott, housemastering, writing his first pieces for Marty Peretz and walking out of dining rooms in protest over peoples� choice of berets, less than a hundred miles north of whom the future author of The End of Racism was making headlines with the publication in the conservative Dartmouth Review of an anti-affirmative action editorial written in what the editors, claiming to have been inspired by the scene in Airplane! with Barbara Billingsley, can at best be presumed to have thought was Black English, whose title says all you need to know: �Dis Sho� Ain�t No Jive, Bro.� (The actual editorial is truly offensive, which is perhaps why we couldn�t find it on the web although we thought it was. Suffice it to say that the authors exposed their white-boy weeniness not so much through the decision to do the editorial in Black English Vernacular as by assuming that it consisted of dialect and usages which were already out of date when they were used in 1920s minstrel shows. Stepin Fetchit sounds like friggin� W.E.B. Du Bois compared to it, for Pete�s sake! And one Freeper thinks it �zippy).

It�s not the only example. The people involved with this all grew up (physically, anyway) and got sinec^H^H^H^Hjobs in the conservative movement. And Sullivan is still surprised by this? Guess that�s what happens when your first encounter with American conservatism comes in the halls of Harvard rather than the streets of, say, Selma.

(Aside from which, Sullivan didn�t even get the link right).

posted by Sully 11/08/2003 10:50:00 AM

Friday, November 07, 2003


Be a dear and buy this for Andrew.

(Thanks to reader C.L. for the link)

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 03:00:00 PM


Best of Both Worlds wonders at the ironies of Sullivan implicitly comparing Catholics of early 17th century England to contemporary Islamists.

Alternatively, is it a justification of anti-Catholicism and anti-Islamism? Just how does Mr Sullivan feel about the Catholic church these days?

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 02:57:00 PM


Arthur Silber on some of the other people fighting The Reagans.

The people I�ve heard who are in positive ecstasy about the cancellation include Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Al Rantel. I�ve mentioned Rantel before, and check the comments to that post for some very interesting background on him. He is an openly gay conservative, kind of in the Sullivan mode � and he now appears to be in serious competition for Sullivan's special award, for �using fag-bashing phrases like any good ol' homophobic ignoramus, but since I�m gay myself, you can�t accuse me of being bigoted. So there!� (I still remember Sullivan�s crack about Joseph Wilson getting �his panties in a twist,� even if some others don�t.)

While talking about the vicious, gay, liberal producers of �The Reagans� (and about the gay and liberal parts of that description, I happen to know that Rantel is correct), Rantel said, and I roughly quote: �Oh, listen, I can just imagine all these Hollywood liberals at their parties in the Swish Alps in West Hollywood, talking about how much they hate the Reagans.� The �Swish Alps� is a direct quote. Nice one, Al. But he�s gay, so it�s okay, you know? His commentary was filled with a number of other, similar kinds of references to things gay. With gay men like Rantel, who needs Pat Robertson?

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 02:45:00 PM


Anonymous Blogger has an answer to one of the most frequently heard hawk arguments:

Lately I�ve been seeing the following argument being made with greater and greater frequency: �Can you tell me that the Iraqis are not better off without Hussein? And if you can�t tell me that, then the war was worth it.� With the likelihood of finding WMDs, the primary rationale for many Americans to support the war effort, becoming more and more remote, war hawks are turning the invasion of Iraq into a humanitarian effort. That is, if it cannot be suported in terms of the ways it makes us (i.e., Americans) safer, then it can be rationalized as at leasting doing some good for the Iraqis.

Of course, like many arguments for the war, this rational is insufficient. It is insufficient because it provides no guidelines for future action. Rather, it only serves as a method of minimizing the damage once done. It�s like blowing up someone's house and then looking back and saying, �now you have an empty lot to build a new, better one!� If this argument was sufficient to rationalize future actions, then every house in America could be blown up with impunity.


... [T]his standard is nothing more than a post hoc rationalization. As soon as it is applied to other countries, its weakness becomes clear. As soon as you say, �what about North Korea? Wouldn�t North Koreans be better off without Kim Jung-Il?� It's at that point that new criteria inevitably enters the equation. How much is that going to cost in terms of American lives and money? What about South Koreans? How many North Koreans will die to make them better off? Etc., etc. The same can be said of any invasion to make the country �better off.�

What �better off� requires is a sober evaluation of the costs v. the benefits of an invasion to topple the current government. People who use �Iraqi people are better off without Saddam� will not engage in this evaluation. When is the cost more than �better off� is worth? If 100k American troops die, is it worth it? The Iraqis will be better off without Saddam, right? What about 50k troops? How about spending a trillion dollars? Clearly, for most hawks, these numbers cross into the realm of breaking point. But what is the actual breaking point? It is this determination that needs to be made before war. How many currently-supporting-the-war hawks would have been for an invasion, to make the Iraqis �better off� if they knew it would cost at a minimum, $87 billion of American money? How many would support a war knowing the cost in American lives?

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 02:28:00 PM


Jessica Lynch agrees that accounts of her rescue were greatly exaggerated.

In her first public statements since her rescue in Iraq, Jessica Lynch criticized the military for exaggerating accounts of her rescue and re-casting her ordeal as a patriotic fable.

Asked by the ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer if the military�s portrayal of the rescue bothered her, Ms. Lynch said: �Yeah, it does. It does that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. Yeah, it�s wrong,� according to a partial transcript of the interview to be broadcast on Tuesday.


In the book and in the interviews, Ms. Lynch says others� accounts of her heroism often left her feeling hurt and ashamed because of what she says was overstatement.

At first, a military spokesman in Iraq told journalists that American soldiers had exchanged fire with Iraqis during the rescue, without adding that resistance was minimal. Then the military released a dramatic, green-tinted, night-vision video of the mission. Soon news organizations were repeating reports, attributed to anonymous American officials, that Ms. Lynch had heroically resisted her capture, emptying her weapon at her attackers.

But subsequent investigations determined that Ms. Lynch was injured by the crash of her vehicle, her weapon jammed before she could fire, the Iraqi doctors treated her kindly, and the hospital was already in friendly hands when her rescuers arrived.

Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, �It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren�t here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn�t.�

And asked about reports that the military exaggerated the danger of the rescue mission, Ms. Lynch said, �Yeah, I don�t think it happened quite like that,� although she added that in that context anybody would have approached the hospital well-armed. She continued: �I don�t know why they filmed it, or why they say the things they, you know, all I know was that I was in that hospital hurting. I needed help.�

And one little detail that must really irk the Blog Queen:

On Tuesday, the book publisher Knopf will release an account of her experience, �I Am a Soldier, Too,� written with her cooperation by a former reporter for The New York Times, Rick Bragg.

Don�t bet the house on him taking this up, much less apologizing to everyone he was sliming at the time. We wouldn�t even bet a wooden nickel.

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 10:50:00 AM


Abu Aardvark, who knows of these things, is your place to go for a balanced opinion of the Bush speech, with the nuances Sullivan either misses or omits:

There are very few things in Bush foreign policy that I admire, like, or even respect � in general, the foreign policy concocted by Bush�s neoconservative radicals is only barely (and rarely) salvaged by State Department salvage operations. But there is one part of the Bush approach which I do like and support, and about which I only wish that he was sincere: the commitment to Arab democracy.

Today�s speech to the NED embodies both the good and bad here.


It is really quite remarkable that Bush and company have embraced a drive for Arab democracy given that the intellectuals behind his policy have generally been closely associated with the argument that Islam and democracy are not compatible.

Let's be clear: it is not the much-maligned professional Middle East scholars who are skeptical of Arab democracy. It is their conservative and neoconservative critics. Go back and read Bernard Lewis. Go read Martin Kramer�s indictment of the field of Middle East studies for being too naively optimistic about democratization and civil society in the 1990s. In other words, Bush is on the side of the angels here, and is implicitly criticizing his intellectual allies, something which can get lost in the clumsy spin operations.

He is also absolutely right about the demands for change within the region, and the widespread enthusiasm for democracy ...


Iraq has not created the democratic domino effect that the neocons and their supporters predicted, as the sparse list of highlights Bush mentions here makes sadly clear.

But that does not mean that such change is impossible, and certainly not that it is undesirable. If you spend any time at all with the Arab media, like al Jazeera, you can�t miss the overtones � and often overt arguments � rejecting the political status quo and demanding change. That demand is real, regardless of American foreign policy.

But that�s the rub. Despite Bush�s spin (which the increasingly desperate liberal hawks are rushing to embrace), the US has not often been on the side of democracy in the Middle East, and there is very little sign that this is changing. The fundamental problem has always been that real democracy could bring to power popular groups which are not supportive of American foreign policy. And faced with a choice between Arab democracy and national interests, the US has almost always chosen the latter, for better or for worse. That�s the reality, which no amount of Presidential spin can change. And the complete collapse of public support for the US among Arab public opinion attests to the overwhelming skepticism about American intentions.

If Bush genuinely wants to promote Arab change and democracy, great � and I really mean that. But look at the deeds, and see if they match the words. Arabs do. What does Bush actually say, and what does he actually do? There is, despite everything, absolutely nothing in the speech that suggests a serious willingness to prioritize democracy over support for American foreign policy goals. And, quite frankly, there is nothing in Bush�s foreign policy team to suggest that they prioritize democracy (although I might make a partial exception for Paul Wolfowitz, for reasons I might get into later).

And so, once again, it�s back to Iraq. If Bush wants to make genuine Iraqi democracy the standard for judging the success of his war, wonderful. How to reconcile that with actual American policy on the ground in Iraq I don�t know. The Iraqi Governing Council remains a powerless, appointed, unrepresentative, and unpopular joke (did you catch the part in Friedman�s column today that only about seven of them even bother showing up to meetings anymore?). The security situation continues to deteriorate, there�s been no progress on a constitution, and very little sign of any political development whatsoever. But given where we are now, a serious public commitment to building a real Iraqi democracy is a positive development, and one to which Bush must be held accountable as things continue to go bad.

As if that weren�t enough, he also brings us Robin Wright�s take in the Post, which he calls �the best analysis I�ve seen�:

Washington has a long-standing credibility problem � and the administration will need to take concrete steps to prove it intends to follow through in ways earlier administrations did not. Bush�s speech was short on specifics.

�In the past, every time a U.S. official has talked about democracy and responsible government, people in the region have looked at them and said, �You�re running against a 50-year legacy of doing the opposite.� We grew up understanding that the United States would not tolerate real democracy as we�d end up with governments or leaders or ideologies that were not compatible with the West,� Melhem added.

Major democratic change is also likely to prove elusive until the administration is able to stabilize the region's flash points, which have led Washington to perpetuate its reliance on governments willing to use repressive tactics to crack down on either militants or anti-U.S. forces.

�By and large, administration after administration ultimately chooses national security priorities over democracy and discovers more often than not that it�s not a trade-off,� said Shibley Telhami, a Brookings Institution fellow who also holds the Anwar Sadat chair in peace and development at the University of Maryland.

In a broad assessment of the region, the president inflated the progress toward democracy made by allies such as Saudi Arabia that are harshly criticized for their abuses in the annual U.S. human rights report, while he criticized countries such as Iran that have made some inroads but do not have good relations with Washington.

�His portrayal of what�s going on in Arab countries is totally unrealistic,� said Marina Ottaway, co-director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

�The reality that he is overlooking is that in all these countries that are supposedly making progress, hostility to the United States is at an all-time high,� she said. �So the idea that these are countries where progress on democracy is going to make them better allies is certainly not supported by what is going on.�

And finally the response from Arabs themselves:

President George Bush�s calls for democracy rang hollow in the Middle East, where many said on Friday they were appalled Washington was preaching liberty for Arabs while occupying Iraq.


�Bush�s speech is like a boring, broken record that nobody believes,� said Gulf-based political analyst Moghazy al-Badrawy.

�He wants democracy and the U.S. is occupying Iraq and its ally Israel is killing Palestinians? Arabs just don�t buy it.�

Abdel-Monem Said, director of Egypt�s Al-Ahram Centre for Political Strategic Studies, said the perceived U.S. dishonesty in justifying the Iraq war had also tarnished its credibility.

�Democracy is all about legalities, rule of law and legitimacy,� he said. �There is an issue of double standards.�


In an editorial, Saudi Arabia�s leading Al-Riyadh daily said it was ironic that Bush was now concerned with the welfare of the Arab people after the United States vetoed almost all U.N. resolutions that would benefit them.


Bush also appeared to add insult to injury when he said the United States had made a mistake by supporting non-democratic governments in the region for the past 60 years, analysts said.

Washington has for decades backed governments throughout much of the Middle East which are seen by their own citizens as totalitarian, corrupt, politically illegitimate and un-Islamic.

�Mr. Bush has not read history. Who supported and still supports the very governments whose oppressive rules breed extremism and terrorism?� asked an Arab analyst based in Dubai.

Which all finally leads AA to ask:

Hey, anyone know why Sullivan and company don�t attack the Washington Post like they do the New York Times for reporting the truth, um, I mean for being politically motivated Leftist propaganda attack dogs? Oh, and another one � anyone know why the Post�s op-ed columnists don�t read their generally top-notch reporters when they write things like this?

UPDATE: Hesiod says it was a long time coming:


And, moreover, it�s exactly what I said should have been done from the very beginning.

Had we turned the worldwide good-will we enjoyed in the wake of 9/11 into a positive movement for change in the Middle East, it would have had a much greater impact.


... we could have completely transformed the dynamic with an strong emphasis on bringing freedom to the region.


Giving the speech now, makes it look like like damage control, and a public relations stunt. Anyone want to bet that there is little or no follow-through?

Steve Mussina also finds some interesting historical parallels.

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 10:00:00 AM


Jesse on Smalltown Boy�s tendency to amalgamate all his opponents.

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 09:42:00 AM


Just a few things to pick on in this week�s Sunday Times of London column (yeah, we know, better late than never).

And they launched their mayhem on the first day of Ramadan. So much for their religious piety.

It may surprise Sullivan, but Islamic tradition does not say you have to abstain from war during that religion�s holiest month. In fact, one is explicitly exempted from the daytime fast if one is at war.

The Iraq liberation ... has moved the battle from America�s streets to Arab streets.

As if, 9/11 excepted, it ever really was in America�s streets.

It�s funny that Sullivan would use a British newspaper to make his most brazen statement of American arrogance yet (read this from an Arab perspective and try not to want to bring the battle back to American streets, for instance). It�s not at all funny that his idea of bringing democracy to Iraq consists in part of imposing upon them a constant state of fear and insecurity in their own backyards that serves our interests.

And the credit goes in part to Bush and Blair � and, in due course, to the beleaguered Iraqi people themselves.

Well, that�s mighty big of him, we�d say ... Hey you, hiding in your houses! Get out in the street where you can get caught in the crossfire! Otherwise you�ll never have peace and democracy, you lazy bums!

Meanwhile, however, the Democrats are busy pandering to an anti-war base that is already sapping Middle America�s confidence in their ability to handle the war in terror.

Hmm. Perhaps he meant �the endless renewal of already record-length reserve deployments, the constant drip drip of casualties (six more this morning), the underreporting of serious injuries; the complaints from ill-trained soldiers on the ground of an undefined, underfunded, underequipped mission; the administration�s high-handed arrogance towards anybody, particularly military families, who dare question any of this.�

What would he say, if, a year from now, people are publicly bashing the Democratic candidates for not being bold enough in their criticism?

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 09:20:00 AM


Pending the outcome (to be announced today) of his contest to find the best imminent-threat statement by a member of the Bush Administration, Josh Marshall�s Hill column takes dead aim at the administration apologist most devoted to saying it wasn�t so:

�No member of the administration,� conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan recently wrote, �used the term �imminent threat� to describe Saddam Hussein�s Iraq. No one. � [Wesley] Clark is repeating a lie that has been thoroughly exposed on the Internet and elsewhere, a lie that even The New York Times has stopped repeating.�

Could this possibly be true? Could all our memories be so faulty?

In a word, no.


Some now point to statements in which they seem to declaim the idea of an imminent threat. In the State of the Union, for instance, the president said: �Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words and all recriminations would come too late.�

But here the president isn�t ruling out an �imminent threat,� but rather just bending the concept out of all recognition by arguing that the threat will be �imminent� only when we get a formal warning from the potential attackers. And that�s just more of the same rhetorical gobbledygook and obfuscation.

Critics like Sullivan want to put the onus on Democrats to untangle these silly word games if they want to talk about what we all know happened in the run-up to the war.

But that�s just not how it works. Just as they can�t undo what they did, the White House and its supporters can�t undo what they said.

There�s no use denying it. It was only a year ago. We were there. We remember.

Great column, but a word of advice to Josh if you�re reading: Have them take another picture where you look more like you used to in that picture on your site of you earnestly looking over your laptop and less like any other Washington pundit 20 years older than you actually are.

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 09:02:00 AM


The blogosphere is all over Sully this morning for his rhetorical sleights of hand.

Atrios gets things off to a roaring start by inviting his commentators to supply examples of Administration spokespeople saying or implying that the occupation of Iraq would be easy. There are already a hundred responses.

Yesterday he told us that the good folk at Texas A&M who put out Ethel the Blog had compiled his readers� suggestions for terms to define the disingenuous debating tactics of rightwing bloggers or other commentators, whether general or particular to one individual.

As you might expect we were particularly interested in the entries under A and S. We were not disappointed:

Andyrogenous - to be both a social conservative and a social liberal.

sullivan, v. To base your argument on a source that actually argues the opposite what you claim it does.

Sullivanish (v). For an issue to conveniently "be disappeared" when inconvenient facts appear to prove a pundit wrong; often to be replaced with a close variation on the same issue, but one that enables the same pundit to take the exact opposite position with ease and apparent inpunity. (thingwarbler)

Sullivating - Misrepresenting your opponent�s position, and then proceeding to bash them over the head with things they never said. If the opponents complain that they are being taken out of context, then squeal that they are backpedaling and declare yourself the �winner.�

Sullogcabinism: The philosophy that one political party is usually right and more virtuous because of its strong sense of right and wrong, except on the one issue that affects you directly and personally. Then it�s a "big tent" even though 99% of the party's members want to make your behavior or hobby a felony.

Sully (v.) - To pretend people who were clearly speaking metaphorically were speaking literally, and criticize them based on that. Also known as the �War on Metaphor.� From Sullivan, Andrew. (Matthew Yglesias/Andrew Northrup)

TBogg, he of fresh American Spectator infamy, calls the Michael Tottens of the world �Andrew Sullivan wannabes.� (Which leads one to ask, how can you be a wannabe wannabe?), and wonders if President Bush really understands the history he talks about.

posted by Sully 11/07/2003 08:43:00 AM

Thursday, November 06, 2003


Sully did Hitchens a favor by quoting some of the most defensible things in his column (and given what he did quote, that�s saying a lot).

The whole piece deserves to be quoted and fisked at length:

First, there is the disingenuous subtitle: �Waiting for Saddam to change is what got us into this mess in the first place.� It is na�ve in the extreme to accuse liberals of that degree of na�vet�, which is why Hitchens (or the copy editor at Slate) adduces no evidence in the text itself to suggest that anyone thought Saddam himself would become anything less than a caged rat. It was way too late to imagine him having a change of heart and becoming a democrat.

What one could have imagined is that Saddam, who was getting old, would eventually die. Possibly Uday or (more likely) Qusay would have succeeded him. It's doubtful the former would have been as effective as his father at holding on to power due to his blatantly sociopathic behavior; maybe his brother would have. But eventually over time all regimes weaken. We saw this in Eastern Europe, where we were not the ones propping up the governments. It took several decades, but those regimes collapsed due to internal pressures and (this is important) the people of those countries were at least able to begin the process of building democracy on (mostly) their own terms. Some of them may have the World Bank, IMF or EU to contend with, but they do not have foreign troops that always carry the threat of overruling them as Iraq does now.

Then Hitchens makes his obligatory deviation from official ideology

I have noticed lately a distressing tendency on the part of those who support the intervention in Iraq to rest their case largely on underreported good news. Now, it is certainly true, as I have said myself, that there is much to celebrate in the new Iraq. The restoration of the ecology of the southern marshes, the freedom to follow the majority Shiite religion, the explosion of new print and electronic media, the emancipation of the schools and universities, and the consolidation of Kurdish autonomy are all magnificent things. But those who want to take credit for them must also axiomatically accept the blame for the failure to anticipate huge lacunae in the provision of power, water, and security.

Fortunately for his friends, he more than makes up for this.

More to the point, one has to be prepared to support a campaign � or a cause � that is going badly. The president has been widely lampooned by many a glib columnist for saying that increased violence is not necessarily a cause for despair and may even be evidence of traction. He is, in fact, quite right to take this view, which was first expressed, to my knowledge, by Gen. John Abizaid. Those who murder the officials of the United Nations and the Red Cross, set fire to oil pipelines and blow up water mains, and shoot down respected clerics outside places of worship are indeed making our point for us.

What point, precisely, would that be? That the UN, the Red Cross and various other NGOs are just bad? That citizens cannot rely on even the U.S. federal government for the most basic of services such as water and security? Both of which are most commonly associated with the militia right in this country.

This is one of the most revealing things Hitchens has ever said.

There is no justifiable way that a country as populous and important as Iraq can be left at the mercy of such people.

This begins the post hoc ergo prompter hoc argument. Saddam et al did a lot of horrible things before the war. But they did not at that time go around blowing up their own infrastructure.

Hitch next repeats standard neocon talking points about Saddam�s brutal repression of the Shi�ite uprising after the Gulf War (another instance where having had a more concrete plan beforehand would have saved us a lot of grief) and the fact that he continued on much as he was before, without any change in his mentality.

Then he veers off into the lunatic fringe. Or begins to.

And it left Saddam free to continue to threaten his neighbors

One of which was that well-known bastion of democracy, Iran.

and to give support and encouragement to jihad forces around the world. (The man most wanted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Abdul Rahman Yasin, fled straight from New Jersey to Baghdad, though there are still those in our �intelligence� services who prefer to grant Saddam the presumption of innocence in this and many other matters.)

Why doesn�t he just openly credit Laurie Mylroie as coauthoress of his piece? There is some evidence of an Iraqi connection in the first WTC bombing, but as much that tends to discredit that.

The greater implication, of course, is Mylroie�s thesis: Saddam mad at US --> Saddam has WTC bombed --> therefore, Saddam responsible for all major terrorism since. No need to actually look at evidence.

This already lousy status quo was volatile and unstable. Saddam Hussein�s speeches and policies were becoming ever more demented and extreme and ever more Islamist in tone. The flag of Iraq was amended to include a verse from the Quran, and gigantic mosques began to be built in Saddam�s own name.

In an excellent example of the right-wing debating technique of missing multiple meanings, it never occurs to Hitchens that this could just be political opportunism. Saddam never did the things a true Islamist could have done that were far within his power to do, like reintroduce sharia law and veils for women, or ban them from driving like his supposedly non-Islamist neighbors in Saudi Arabia.

And building mosques in his own name? Wow, like a dictator won�t have an ego sufficient enough to make him believe he�s God, or some sort of prophet or Messiah? Churches were dedicated to Hitler in Nazi Germany ... mainly to bolster his appeal to certain of the devout. It didn�t tie him to fundamental Christianity, and any such worshipper would be rightly offended at the use of such specious logic.

... the no-fly zones managed to protect the Kurds and Shiites from a repeat performance of the mass murders of 1991 and earlier but did not prevent, for example, the planned destruction of the largest wetlands in the Middle East, home to the 5,000-year-old civilization of the Marsh Arabs.

Never mind, of course, that the Republican House didn�t want to spend the $100 million that noted greenie whacko, George W. Bush, had requested to reverse that.

(Not really relevant here, we know, but we just had to mention that).

The question then, becomes this: Should the date or timing of this unpostponable confrontation have been left to Saddam Hussein to pick?

Hmm. Saddam had not attacked any neighboring country for 12 years before last spring. We had more than sufficient forces in the region to deter him if he had (just that they were in the wrong countries, which has to be another of the underlying reasons for this war). And he knew that the Clinton administration never revoked the Bush threat to nuke him if he had dared use any WMDs.

As if it were all about us, wasn�t it? That Saddam had good reason to fear Israel and Iran, much closer to him, both of which he had at least skirmished with in the past, never enters into the calculations of the war apologists.

Hitchens does try to address an argument we made a few grafs back:

I am pleased to notice the disappearance from the peacenik argument of one line of attack � namely that Saddam Hussein was �too secular� to have anything to do with jihad forces. The alliance between his murderous fedayeen and the jihadists is now visible to all � perhaps there are some who are still ready to believe that this connection only began this year.

We�re sure there was some Nazi officer who told Hitler that the Communists and the West would never put aside their differences and resist him, either.

And he would have been right, actually. After the fall of Naziism, the two immediately resumed their previous global gamesmanship, once the shared desperation of the Nazi threat was gone.

Meanwhile, an increasing weight of disclosure shows that the Iraqi Mukhabarat both sought and achieved contact with the Bin Laden forces in the 1990s and subsequently. Again, was one to watch this happening and hope that it remained relatively low-level?

There was evidence of one brief contact, so far, which apparently came to nothing. Neither of them could trust each other, and Hitch typically forgets that even as American troops were swarming up the Tigris and Euphrates, Osama still took the time out to condemn Saddam�s regime as insufficiently Islamist and worthy of destruction.

posted by Sully 11/06/2003 03:27:00 PM


Jo Fish on how far Sullivan will stretch to get 9/11 into a post:

Andy wants us all to equate the acts of the 9/11 Terrorists to Guy Fawkes, because, well, they all had Religion. Since we all don�t obsess quite as much as Sullly about 9/11, I guess that the rest of us poor, misguided creatures realize that none of the 9/11 bad guys were US Citizens, and no one will ever propose a �Mohammed Atta Day� anywhere in the continental US, even though we could burn Atta in effigy. Except maybe Andrew Sullivan, who would propose such a thing, just to prove his useless point ... everything is the fault of 9/11.

I suspect people will always remember 9/11 Andrew, they just won�t obsess about it the way you seem to. We remember many things, but few drive us to the level of bad craziness that you seem to want from Americans over 9/11. The only modern pre-9/11 example was Pearl Harbor, and the consequence there was neither bad nor crazy, but an answer to a challenge presented by a sovereign power.

We answered the challenge again in Afghanistan, although more for politcal expedience than lack of National Will that victory becomes more hollow daily as your hero, the Miserable Failure, has allowed the Taliban to reemerge from the shadows and his buddy Bin Forgotten to remain uncaught. So, if I had to make an assessment, the ones who have forgotten 9/11 by the standards of Afghanistan and defeating al-Qaida are the 1600 Crew led by your hero, not the average American who is paying in more ways than one for Fearless Leader�s selective amnesia.

�Bad craziness.� Good ol� Hunter. It would be a most fitting monument if some yet-unconceived future historian were to appropriate that phrase for the title of the definitive history of America in the years immediately after 9/11.

posted by Sully 11/06/2003 02:38:00 PM

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


One bit from Sully�s Right Wing News interview (still generating traffic for us) also jumps out:

John Hawkins: Why do you think so many people on the left have had such a hard time dealing with the war on terrorism?

Andrew Sullivan: Because it requires seeing that the West is morally superior to its enemies. And they have spent a lifetime arguing that the West is morally inferior. So they will even find a way to justify or rationalize or overlook the evil and tyranny that lies behind radical political Islamism. They�re trapped by their own past. Not all of them � but a resilient minority.


There are two problems with this.

First, our interpretation of left/liberalism on this is that while some people do seem to think that power relations justifies a view whereby the West cannot be excused anything and the non-west can be forgiven anything, and this view seems a bit more prevalent in the British left, most of us see neither the West nor the rest of the world as having any special claim to moral superiority (welll, maybe Finland does if you had to get down to it :-)).

Second, this is exactly the kind of attitude that gets the non-West riled up in the first place. Salam Pax uses a quote from Samuel Huntington that says it best:

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.

If you�re prepared to argue that superiority in applying organized violence is of itself a sign of moral superiority, there are some ancient Greeks over there you can go sit next to. Or there should be some space next to Nietzsche. Better them than the other options.

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 08:57:00 PM


Well, we�d bet that 9/11 won�t be remembered quite like the Gunpowder Plot is in contemporary Britain.

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 08:35:00 PM


TBogg on Sullivan�s effusion last night:

Would someone let me know when we can start clubbing people with baseball bats for using terms like �New Media,� �second media century,� or �Big Media.�

Jeebus. This is worse than the �paradigm� years ...

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 05:18:00 PM


Fresh off kissing and making up with the Terribly Unsuccessful Fund Manager, Atrios is on a roll today. He reminds us that GLAAD finds the depiction of Reagan�s nonchalance on AIDS during the early �80s in The Reagans to be generally accurate even if the offending line itself is probably fictional.

Then he updates last year�s list of tricky right-wing debating techniques with some new ones, in which the Sage of South Goodstone figures prominently:

Big Media Matt has been documenting instances of the War on Metaphor, whereby conservatives pretend people who were clearly speaking metaphorically were speaking literally, and criticize them based on that. Andrew Sullivan�s been excelling at this one lately.

The War on Analogy, which is one of my favorites, is when conservatives pick apart an analogy by bringing in utterly irrelevent details. For example, if I write �Iraq is, in many ways, like Vietnam,� a graduate of the wingnut debating school will respond with �You�re wrong! Iraq is in the Middle East!� Or, if one points out to Andrew Sullivan the similarity between Jayson Blair and certain journalistic lapses under his own watch, he could respond with �They�re nothing alike! Jayson Blair is lefthanded!�

But missing here is one of Sullivan�s peculiar specialties, a defensive strategy which for lack of a better name we call the counterargument by omission, or leaving your opponent�s strongest point entirely unaddressed and focusing on something relatively minor or incidental to it as if it were the salient point

He has done this for a long time, most recently to Amy Welborn, but yesterday�s item in response to Alterman�s Nation column, where he whines about being termed an �ayatollah� while leaving unscratched what any reader can see is Alterman�s principle point:

Conservatives, and some not so conservatives, are testing out a new thesis in their effort to shut out ideas that make them uncomfortable: Any attempt to analyze the origins of a distasteful phenomenon is tantamount to endorsing it. Whether the problem is global terrorism or anti-Semitism, the message is the same. �It�s bad. It must be condemned. That�s all we need to know.�

We would add, however, that Alterman is probably right to call Andy a wannabe Ayatollah. Sullivan can prattle on all he wants about being pro-free speech, but as we have seen most recently with his post about the Democratic candidates and their position or lack thereof on the Iraq war, he wants certain things that some of us would still consider not only debatable but relevant to be off the proverbial table, accepted as givens (often, not coincidentally, those things upon which extended debate and discussion would only hurt George W. Bush politically). And to accomplish this end he is not at all shy about using terms like �fifth column,� �objectively pro-[insert bad thing or person here],� �Communist,� �Stalinist,� �anti-Semitism� and so forth, highly loaded and incendiary terms which, as much as he dishonestly tries to distance himself from broad applications of those terms, can only be deployed in such a fashion if you intend to thoroughly delegitimize your opponent.

He calls it moral clarity. We call it bullying.

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 02:20:00 PM


By the way, Democratic Underground has more traffic than this site, Instapundit, the Nation or the New Republic. It boasts over 30,000 subscribers.

And just what does that tell you, Sullivan?

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:59:00 PM


You�ve got to love Adam Kotsko, who in commenting on our recent Halloween Republican nightmare post on Bush-hatred not only got it completely:

The message of the post is that �bashing� works and that conservatives are now terrified that the liberals will figure that out.

but likened the whole situation to a famed late �80s anti-drug ad.

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:53:00 PM


Our favorite Iraqi blog, as with most of the leftbloggers, is Baghdad Burning. Here�s what riverbend had to say about the recent attacks that might be of some interest especially as it is at odds with Sullivan�s take:

The majority associate such attacks with resistance and many people believe that they are being carried out by people with access and knowledge of advanced military equipment � perhaps Iraqis who were a part of the Guard or former members of the Iraqi army. Now, while some may certainly be labeled as Ba'athists, or loyalists, they aren�t fundamentalists. We do, after all, have hundreds of thousands of disgruntled former military personnel and soldiers who were made to sit at home without retirement, a pension or any form of compensation. The relatively few who were promised a monthly �retirement wage,� complain that they aren�t getting the money. (I can never emphasize enough the mistake of dissolving the army � was anyone thinking when they came up with that decision?!)

New resistance groups are popping up every day. The techniques are becoming more sophisticated and we even hear of �menshoorat� being passed around. Menshoorat are underground �fliers.�

The suicide bombings, on the other hand, are more often attributed to fundamentalist groups. To say that these groups are fighting to bring back the former regime is ridiculous: People chose to ignore the fact that the majority of fundamentalists were completely against the former regime because members of Al Qaeda, Ansar Al Islam, Al Da'awa and other political fundamentalist groups were prone to detention, exile and in some cases, execution.


The irony is hearing about the �War on Terrorism� on CNN and then tuning in to the CPA channel to see the Al-Da'awa people sitting there, polished and suited, Puppet Knights of the Round Table. To see Al-Jaffari, you almost forget that they had a reputation for terrorism over the decades, here in Iraq. They were one of the first political/religious groups to use bombings in Iraq to get their political message across to the people.

Their most famous debacle was one that occurred in 1980. One of the most prominent universities in Iraq, Mustansiriya University, was hosting a major, international conference on economics for various international youth groups. Tariq Aziz, who was then the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Iraq, was visiting the conference during the opening. Suddenly, in the middle of thousands of students from over 70 international and Iraqi youth organizations, two bombs exploded, killing 2 students and injuring dozens. The next day, while a demonstration of outraged students was following the funeral procession to a local graveyard, two more bombs were thrown in their midst, killing two high school students. Al-Da'awa later claimed responsibility.

Later that same year, in an attempt to assassinate the president of the University of Technology in Baghdad, they instead killed one of the university custodians who stood in their way.

In the �70s, members of Al Da'awa used to throw �acid� in the faces of �safirat� or females who don�t wear the �hijab,� both in certain parts of Baghdad, and in certain areas in the south of Iraq. Shi'a clerics who didn�t agree with their violent message, were often assassinated or assaulted.

The fact that they are currently one of the leading political parties involved with the �New Iraq� sends a wonderful message to �terrorist organizations�: Bombing works, terror works. People here are terrified we�ll end up another Afghanistan � that these fundamentalist groups the CPA is currently flirting with are Iraq�s Taliban.

OK, anybody still not clear that we need a change of both strategy and management in Iraq?

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:37:00 PM


What we got out of the Healing Iraq post was as damning a proof of the error of our heavy-handed ways in Iraq as anything published by a Westerner:

We have our own Law and court systems which we can use but the CPA won�t allow us to.

And of the long-term damages caused by the ultra-jingoistic approach pioneered by Fox News:

You see a handful of teenagers dancing in front of the camera celebrating dead Americans, and you judge an entire people, you start whining about pulling the troops out of Iraq and giving the Iraqis what they deserve. Are you people really so close-minded? It is the fault of your news agencies that show you what they want, its certainly not ours. If you want us to go out and cry for your dead soldiers and wave American flags, then don�t count on it either.

Some of us don�t and never did. It seems interesting that this guy is responding not to protests from liberals, but from conservative readers of the kind Sullivan encourages.

Lastly he writes of the costs of the flypaper strategy of which Kapit�n von Behrbach is so enamored to those who had no say in it:

We are losing way too many innocent Iraqis daily to be grieving over dead soldiers who have actually made a decision to come here. What about the thousands of dead Iraqis who were not as lucky to have a choice? Did you cry for them?

Uh oh, watch out, you might wind up being condemned by Charles Johnson for that.

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:27:00 PM


TBogg also blows the roof off the �strange omission� at the Times

Nuance, as well as details seem to be lost on Mr Hippercrit, but hey, by attacking the NYTimes he got the attention of, and a link from Andrew Sullivan, who, come to think of it, was fired by the same NYTimes and yet never mentions that in his critiques of them!

Wow! Can you believe that? Stay tuned...

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:42:00 AM


The blogosphere has been all over Sullivan for his refusal to not only quit beating this stillborn horse, but to attempt to use it on Krugman today.

In the lead is Josh Marshall, explaining it very carefully per Atrios�s request:

Now, rather than saying he�d mischosen his words, Nethercutt�s campaign spinmeisters seem to have told him that the best approach was to go on the offensive. So Nethercutt first demanded an apology and then ran a bunch of ads accusing the paper of having �massacred� his words, engaging in �deliberate distortion� and �slander[ing]� him.



Frankly, it sounds to me like the Post-Intelligencer is mainly guilty of not being Nethercutt�s flack, of not bending over backwards to save Nethercutt from his own clumsy and over-zealous repetition of the White House party line (viz, that the press is hiding the good news.)

It�s awfully hard to get around his statement that the Iraqi schools reopening and other similar stuff is a �bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple soldiers every day� even if he did tag on a throwaway line about American fatalities being a terrible thing.

TBogg really whoops it up:

Maybe if Krugman just wrote anonymous emails to Andy, Sullivan would actually take up the substance of what Krugman had to say.

Thank again, probably not. That would require work.

And note his earlier observation:

�which, heaven forbid, is awful� has a certain Seinfeldian �Not that there�s anything wrong with that� ring to it.

Finally, Jo Fish checks in:

Remind me again how long he took cheap partisan advantage at TNR and subsequently spent his time parsing the word �is�?

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:36:00 AM


We suppose Sullivan is within his rights to link to a DU thread ... after all, those of across the aisle have all gotten more than our share of negative-ad oppo-research mileage by linking to Free Republic discussion threads.

But it�s worth noting that, when we do, we usually try to pick out a representative sample of posts on said thread to reflect what we see to be its overall character, if we choose to quote anything.

So, it�s worth reading this reply on the same thread for some perspective:

I actually tend to take a slightly more nuanced view of the whole thing, if anyone cares. Since I doubt that the motivations of many of the people doing the killing of the USAmerican troops are anything that I�d support � things like peace and democracy and justice, those being things that I happen to care about a little more than I care about, say, the fortunes of the US Democratic Party � and since I do have a degree of sympathy for the exploited USAmericans doing their masters' bidding over there, I don't see much for me to be choosing between, and either mourning or applauding.

And this one:

Anytime someone here or elsewhere calls for the killing of American troops I will personally insult them. I was actually pretty restrained in my post. There was far more I could have said.

And this guy turned out to have been absolutely right.

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:25:00 AM


Reading the Derbyshire Award nomination to Fr. McCloskey, and the Atrios-Luskin accord, we have to add that, as far as we can tell, she isn�t pressing the issue anymore, but Sullivan still hasn�t apologized to Amy Welborn for falsely and maliciously stating during the recent Schiavo-related brouhaha that she said Sullivan could no longer call himself a Catholic.

The author of the Prove It! series for Catholic teens thus seems to be on course to become to The Blog Queen in 2003 what Yale history professor Glenda Gillmor was in 2002 ... i.e., the biggest victim of his arrogance that year.

Funny that they�re both women of a somehwat academic bent ...

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:14:00 AM


Alone among all the blogs we read, Steve Gilliard has the inside story on why The Reagans was shunted off to Showtime.

Basically, conservatives should not be so quick to thank themselves. Politics was at work, yes ... but the cruel, vicious, office kind, not the public, vicious, ideological kind. It all comes down to Leslie Moonves covering his flank against his boss and the DJ who hates him bitterly.

posted by Sully 11/05/2003 01:07:00 AM

Tuesday, November 04, 2003


Speaking of Zell Miller, Wyeth Ruthven gleefully reprints an open letter to him from his former campaign chair showing just how pathetic he and his present switch are.

posted by Sully 11/04/2003 10:56:00 AM


Atrios finds the source of the Reagan AIDS quote that so offended Smalltown Boy and many other conservatives, despite it being perfectly in sync with the thinking of the Religious Right, a Republican constituency of greater impact than, say, the Log Cabin Club.

posted by Sully 11/04/2003 10:50:00 AM


Ooops! Too bad Anti-Semitism Watch, Part II, got posted before Anti-Semitism Watch, Part I!

posted by Sully 11/04/2003 10:45:00 AM


So, a bad album cover is one that either has homoerotic overtones (three of the selections, especially the Orleans one) or is ultra-Middle America schmaltzy? What�s going on here? Says more about the person who picked these out than the art (such as, we agree, it is).

And where are some of our truly favorite horrid covers of all time? Bob Dylan�s Saved? (He should never do his own cover art). Yes�s Tormato? (The best example of a bad cover by a group whose other covers are practically legendary. For a long time this album was hard to find, and one wonders if record store owners were trying to spare their customers� eyes)? Grace Slick�s Dreams and Stevie Nicks� Bella Donna (two takes on the same sort of idea that should never have seen the light of day to begin with).

The New Book of Rock Lists includes the late Lester Bangs� list of the worst covers by major artists, which is:

1. Blank Generation, Richard Hell and the Voidoids
2. Growing Up in Public, Lou Reed.
3. Saved, Dylan
4. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here�s the Sex Pistols
5. Let It Bleed, The Rolling Stones
6. Hard Nose the Highway, Van Morrison
7. Any Journey cover
8. On the Corner; In Concert; Big Fun; Water Babies, Miles Davis
9. Any Cher cover, but especially the album she did with Gregg Allman, Allman and Woman
10. Lust for Life, Iggy Pop.

Food for thought.

posted by Sully 11/04/2003 10:42:00 AM


This presidential election will be the first since 9/11.

How can he run this email and his commentary in good faith, given that he�s previously quoted Howard Dean to the effect that we cannot abandon Iraq and, a few posts earlier, quotes Gephardt saying something similar (How, especially, can he call Dean an isolationist when Dean has not only said what was said before, but said that we actually need more troops in Iraq? The �isolationist� taunt seems to be a shorthand way of saying �governor of a small state with no previous track reocrd on foreign policy, despite said state�s bordering the biggest U.S. trading partner.� In that case, we can think of a governor of a big state that also borders on a major foreign trading partner whose foreign policy, at least at the time of his ascendancy, could be less ambiguously described as �isolationist� since it forcefully stated opposition to �nation-building� by U.S. troops abroad, who also became president).

Perhaps because the emailer (if it really is one and not Sullivan making pretend) is even less conscientious than Sullivan: He or she does not link to anything proving some of the wilder allegations made: �Not when National Security is considered dispensable, if considered at all ... Not when the Democrats fault George Bush for creating French obstruction. Not when the Democrats secretly applaud American deaths because it proves George Bush is �wrong.�� All stated as sweeping generalizations that need less argument to support them than �The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.�

posted by Sully 11/04/2003 10:14:00 AM


Slate�s Tim Noah got in this dig-by-implication at Sullivan yesterday, in the course of writing about Shattered Glass and some past black marks on The New Republic, such as its use by Henry Wallace in the late 1940s to promote his stealth-Communist campaign for president:

�If I had to write a history of disgraces at the New Republic,� the magazine�s literary editor Leon Wieseltier said last week, the New Republic�s association with Wallace �would have to come in first.� Second place, Chatterbox would add, might be reserved for the magazine�s apologetics for Stalin's purges during the 1930s. The New Republic�s decision in the 1990s to excerpt Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein�s The Bell Curve, which employed pseudoscience to argue that blacks were genetically inferior to whites, might come in fifth or sixth, but at any rate well ahead of Glass�s hoaxes. Indeed, though we can all be grateful that former New Republic editor Charles Lane exposed Glass as a fraud, Lane's exposure ([in the New York Review of Books] while working as a New Republic writer) of The Bell Curve�s crackpot sources was a more significant contribution to humanity.

C�mon Tim, don�t be modest. Remind us just who it was sitting in the big chair at TNR who rammed that article through, accomodating the threatened mass resignation only by letting practically the entire staff of the magazine at the time write rebuttals and responses.

By the way, does anyone else find it significant that Sullivan takes this moment to let on what has previously not been reported, that Glass was his personal assistant? This complicates quite a few storylines ...

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

Monday, November 03, 2003


So Roger Simon is a liberal? From reading his blog you never would have known it; when he catalogs his putative liberalism at the beginning of his post, that was the first time we heard many of those positions from him.

Anyway, he always seems, like Michael Totten, to understand that it would be impolite to his new friends to bring it up in discussions amongst themselves that:

I think taxes should not be reduced for the upper classes. I would like to see a lot more done for the environment, including the automobile companies being forced to build truly fuel-efficient cars as quickly as possible. I favor a woman�s right to choose and gay marriage. I�d like to see salaries raised for teachers ...

News flash, Roger: Re-elect Bush and you�ll be saying those things even more passionately in support of Hillary Clinton in 2008, because they will need to be more urgently addressed at that point. Obviously, you�re not so terribly passionate about them that you would embarrass your buddies by bringing them up in the meantime (Read your own comments and you�ll see what we mean. They see you as a potential conversion, Roger, not someone who just happens to agree with them on one issue you both think terribly important).

And just who is he to matter, anyway? We have read that he is a Hollywood screenwriter who was nominated for an Oscar for Enemies: A Love Story, a worthy accomplishment (to be sure, but then again we�ve heard that there is so much crap floating around in coverage that any semi-decent writer will get an Oscar nomination if he sticks around long enough and doesn�t develop a debilitating drug habit) but one that is over a decade old and really hasn�t led to much since ... hey, what other blogger does that sound like?

Oh, he writes novels, too.

posted by Sully 11/03/2003 09:28:00 PM


Hmm. Not once in the Sunday Herald article will you find the word �Jew,� and �Jewish� turns up only in the context of describing an article in the Forward.

Notice how Sullivan simply assumes, as if it were a fact of nature, that any article describing in such extreme detail (down to naming the Israeli men in the van) a conspiracy theory of sorts that�s been batted around for some time now is of necessity antisemitic.

Obviously, for this, criticism of Israel=antisemitism. Somebody remember to tell these people.

Granted, the facts in the story could be used by antisemites to suggest, as many have, that Israel orchestrated the whole thing (And you know what? Whether this had happened or not, antisemites would be blaming Israel. . But it�s one of the most responsible, careful treatments of this we�ve yet read.

Here�s our money quote, from the end of the story:

What we are left with, then, is fact sullied by innuendo. Certainly, it seems, Israel was spying within the borders of the United States and it is equally certain that the targets were Islamic extremists probably linked to September 11. But did Israel know in advance that the Twin Towers would be hit and the world plunged into a war without end; a war which would give Israel the power to strike its enemies almost without limit? That�s a conspiracy theory too far, perhaps. But the unpleasant feeling that, in this age of spin and secrets, we do not know the full and unadulterated truth won�t go away. Maybe we can guess, but it�s for the history books to discover and decide.

Given that Marty Peretz�s New Republic was and is known privately around Washington to be a Mossad asset, we smell a disinformation campaign at work here.

posted by Sully 11/03/2003 09:16:00 PM


For someone who hates Saddam Hussein so much (well, don�t we all?), Sullivan seems to know things about him that U.S. intelligence would probably like to:

He believed � and probably still does � that the U.S. does not have the guts to stick this out and wear down the Sunni dead-enders now combined with Islamist terrorists. He planned on this kind of war of attrition from the minute he knew he was militarily finished.

Just how does he know this? Are he and the Head Ba�athist having a nice, cordial email correspondence? Perhaps he should let Wolfowitz know about this so he can pass it along.

All kidding aside, let�s look at how truly weak the two key assertions here are.

First, an Iraqi major said after the war (oh, sorry, after �major combat operations�) that giving up the whole country and then launching a guerilla war was not the plan (Can you really imagine that it would have been? Would we expect the U.S. Army to defend us that way?), Instead:

Iraqi military commanders, certain they could never counter overwhelming American air power, thought they could defeat the United States by making a bloody stand for Baghdad that would so sicken the American public that the United States would withdraw its troops and go home.

OK, you might argue, they didn�t want to give up the whole country first but they still planned on a dragged-out operation. Distinction without a difference, you say.

But, if so, why were these plans changed suddenly, at the last minute and at the highest levels:

So Iraqi field commanders were surprised April 8, as they were preparing to battle American incursions into the capital, when they were ordered to withdraw and return to their bases north of the city, according to an Iraqi major who was commanding a battalion in the northeast sector of the city.

The commanders withdrew as instructed, and, once they reached their base, were told they and their soldiers could go home, the major recalled.


Iraqi soldiers perceived the American attack as �less aggressive� than the campaign that drove Iraqi invaders from Kuwait 12 years ago. Jabouri indicated that perception made the decision to abandon Baghdad even harder to understand. �So when it fell, we were desperate,� he said.

What happened that no one is talking about is that Iraqi commanders took bribes from the U.S. to stop fighting (Recall that Saddam�s daughters, upon safely escaping to Jordan, expressed similar shock that the vaunted Iraqi Army had simply collapsed rather than defend Baghdad as everyone expected them to). So, it seems to us that the present situation was not the one Saddam expected to be in at this point. He did not expect to be militarily finished so quickly. Hell, if other postwar intel is to be believed, he never expected to be fighting a ground war so quickly, instead hoping he could use diplomacy to call off the American dogs after several weeks of airstrikes.

And Saddam can�t �know� that we won�t stick around anymore than he can �know� that the U.S. planned the occupation two ways: poorly and not at all. He couldn�t have known that the U.S. would be unable to secure meaningful military help from any other country save Britain (well, actually, a small rock could have probably looked at the Bush Administration�s track record on that issue and guessed that that would happen). He couldn�t have known any of these things, unless, say, Ahmed Chalabi was working for him (which is, at this point, a possibility as good as any other).

posted by Sully 11/03/2003 09:02:00 PM


The Beeb is one of the few news organizations which simply rewrites posted copy without any indication that they have done so. Sometimes with simple typos etc. this makes sense. But in factual errors, it�s a form of deception, a rewriting of the record, with no accountability ...

Maybe they should just redesignate themselves a blog, then, and for the Queen it would be all OK.

posted by Sully 11/03/2003 07:09:00 PM


TBogg is all over Sullivan like the wildfires of San Diego:

If Andy is interested in what is meant by �irreplaceable� he need only go ask the families of the soldiers who die everyday while he sits at Starbucks and Wi-Fi�s his deep political thoughts. A hand-penned note that says: �Your son died for our credibility...� is the least he can do.

Oh wait. He�s already doing the least that he can do....

Aside from which, the post is just logically silly. �Saddam always relied on the Somalia strategy.� Well then, shouldn�t Bush & Co. have taken that into account? It was their responsibility, their duty to those they asked to prepare to die, those who went into the line of fire where they themselves would not have and did not? If you want to take the Somalia strategy away, don�t recreate Somalia. It�s that simple.

In that light, Atrios reprints an email from novelist and military commentator Christian Bauman showing just how much this has alienated the military:

... [O]ne of the things that drives me nuts is when people write "this isn't like Vietnam! Totally different than Vietnam!"

What they fail to understand is that the comparison to Vietnam has nothing to do with the country or the political situation THERE; the comparison is about HERE. The comparison is about a blind administration, talking itself into something and then unable to control the beast they�ve birthed, unable (and unwilling) to kill it.


The administration�s complete lack of planning for the postwar period not only screwed Iraqis, it essentially screwed our own soldiers; at the least, it puts them in the uncomfortable and frustrating position of having to watch something they could esily stop. At the worst, it actually puts their lives at risk, as we see happening now.

That Sullivan is, as predicted, defending the increasily indefensible military insouciance of the Bush Administration doesn�t make this any prettier to watch.

posted by Sully 11/03/2003 03:41:00 PM

Sunday, November 02, 2003


Other bloggers have already linked to today�s New York Times Magazine cover story about the horrible errors in planning, such as it was, for the occupation of Iraq.

And it�s important. But no one seems to have linked to this Slate piece by Daniel Benjamin making the equally important point that, whatever Sullivan and the chickenhawks want to believe, the war in Iraq is hurting the overall war on terror.

In the week since Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld�s Oct. 16 memo appeared in USA Today, the press squall has churned mostly around the doubts it expresses about the prosecution of the war on terror and the way those doubts contradict the administration�s public statements. But the memo is significant for an entirely different reason. It opens a window onto the Bush team�s flawed thinking about the war on terror.

Two key passages stand out: First, Rumsfeld wonders, �Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists.� Then, later, he asks, �Are we capturing, killing or deterring more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?�

As foreign fighters pour into Iraq to attack U.S. troops and undermine the occupation, the questions are long overdue. They suggest that a top official is beginning to recognize what others outside and inside government have been arguing since Sept. 11, 2001: The United States faces an insurgency that is not tied to one piece of Middle East real estate or to one rogue state.


There is, in fact, overwhelming evidence that the radicalization of the Muslim world is deepening. That means more sympathizers, more fund raising, and more recruits for the jihadist camp.


Tremendous diplomatic pressure will be required to end the incitement, the anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism that fills the press and official rhetoric and lays the ground for jihadist recruitment and violence. This, under the best of circumstances, would be a tough road, and the effort would last decades. But given the right approach, it could work. It would require reinvigorating a Middle East peace process and sticking with it, the ticket of admission to being taken seriously in the Muslim world. Finally, it requires signing up allies because the United States is viewed as too toxic a presence for most Muslims.

Was there ever a chance to pursue such a strategy? Absolutely. After Sept. 11 and before the invasion of Iraq, there was a moment of possibility. In December 2002, the State Department unveiled its Middle East Partnership Initiative, a basket of projects to encourage democratization in the Muslim world. Then-director of Policy Planning, Richard Haass, publicly regretted the fact that �successive U.S. administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, have not made democratization a sufficient priority.� Secretary of State Colin Powell threw his weight behind the effort, the underlying idea of which was that the time has passed when America could look away from what goes on within the autocratic, stunted states that have become incubators of terrorism. There was not much money there � the program now gets about $100 million, and Arab governments hated it. (The Egyptian foreign minister called it �the epitome of idiocy,� a sure sign of a good idea.)


The Bush administration chose its moment of opportunity for confronting Iraq, not radical Islam and terror. So now we are stuck with an Iraq policy, not a foreign policy for dealing with a global challenge � and for a hundred well-known reasons, we cannot afford to let Iraq fail. Rumsfeld asks in his memo whether we are now in a situation in the war on terror in which �the harder we work, the behinder we get?�

The answer is yes.

In other words, the Muslim world�s alienation from the U.S. happened because of the Bush administration�s policies, not in spite of them.

Benjamin doesn�t ask why this happened, but we all know the answer: So successfully indoctrinated were all the neocons who seized the moment after Sept. 11 that, confronted with vast evidence that true support for the U.S. existed outside Britain and Israel that they had to assume it was all a trick, and return to paranoid mode and alienate everybody to restore reality to what they knew it had to be.

posted by Sully 11/02/2003 06:14:00 PM

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