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

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


Saturday, November 15, 2003


Mark Kleiman, in the process of trashing out Glenn Reynolds, fact checks Sullivan�s take on Wesley Clark and points out that Sully is simply wrong that the war on Iraq detracted from the war on al-Qa"aadah. (Link via Hesiod, who took the occasion to finally de-blogroll Reynolds).

posted by Sully 11/15/2003 01:47:00 PM


Via Anonymous Blogger, we get the original Hearst story in which Rumsfeld tried to backtrack.

All Sully has is that Rummy didn�t use the phrase �open arms.� But Rummy was asked about the majority of Iraq�s civilian population, which we would take to include the Sunnis, as well as the Shi�as and Kurds. Sullivan is the one playing a little game here.

posted by Sully 11/15/2003 09:32:00 AM


We believe even Churchill would have said the honor of �Greatest Briton Ever� probably goes to Alfred the Great, without whom which y?ur writing w?uld l??k m?re like this.

posted by Sully 11/15/2003 09:18:00 AM


The anti-war left, who let the visits of Mugabe and Assad pass without much protest ...

Perhaps because neither of them started a war using their countrymen and women as cannon fodder?

My column next week is a 3,000 word defense of the president ...

As opposed to his blog since January 2001, a 3 million-word defense of the president.

[M]y native country isn�t renowned for its common sense for nothing ...

Three comebacks present themselves as possibilities. Since we couldn�t decide amongst them, we�ll let you pick the one you like best:

1) Which explains why you left, of course.

2) We�d be careful saying things that can so easily be edited to sound embarrassing.

3) Explain how a national fad for �Mr. Blobby� can be reconciled with that statement.

posted by Sully 11/15/2003 09:08:00 AM

Friday, November 14, 2003


Well, he�s finally gone and proved it. Next we fully expect him to change his birthday to September 11.

ADDENDUM: Jo Fish goes to town on this:

Someone do this: Buy Sullivan a box of condoms, a bottle of lube, a mirror and then paint �9/11� on his forehead backwards, lock him in a room and leave him there for the weekend. Maybe by then he�ll be over it and never, ever want to see those numbers again. 9/11 was a National Tragedy. For Sullivan it�s become a masturbatory fantasy to idealize and idolize his hero, Commander Codpiece. It�s time he got on with the rest of his life ... the rest of us have.

But Sullivan should have addressed this teensy little point Kinsley made:

How can your current beliefs be so transcendentally correct if you yourself recently believed something very different? How can critics of what you say now be so obviously wrong if you yourself used to be one of them? But Bush is cocksure that active, sometimes military, promotion of American values in the world is a good idea, just as he was, or appeared to be, cocksure of the opposite not long ago.

To simply point to the empty pit on Church Street is not an entirely adequate answer. Sullivan probably considers this unimportant today, but one of the key moments of American history in the 20th century was when Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, a staunch isolationist before World War II , delivered his �speech heard round the world,� on Jan. 10, 1945 in which he announced his support for NATO. It transformed the Cold War from a Democratic one into an American one, and delivered a death blow to prewar isolationism.

He gave the speech because simply pointing to the war and the looming Soviet threat were not enough and he knew that. He had to explain himself.

Bush owes us no less an accounting. If nothing else, to at least blunt the suspicion many of us have that his dissing of nation-building was just empty campaign rhetoric meant to cultivate the votes of those who believed Clinton had ruined the military (a military that nevertheless won in Afghanistan during Bush�s first year).

posted by Sully 11/14/2003 09:45:00 AM


P. O�Neill over at Best of Both Worlds extended our musings on just what constituted a slur in Vidal�s remark about Sullivan:

But one question to our thousands of readers might help provide insights into Sullivan�s ambiguity: In which country, England or the USA, is being labelled Irish more likely to be an insult? Perhaps he�s not quite as New World as he thinks.

posted by Sully 11/14/2003 01:18:00 AM


We have grown leery of reading his Sunday Times of London pieces lately, as they often contain little not on his blog in the preceding weeks.

We had, however, planned to say something about this week�s if we had the time. But then Terry Krepel (who seems to have redesigned his site slightly) pointed to the Free Republic thread, where the locals were none too pleased about being equated with Democratic Underground and called far-out wackos.

So we�ll let them do it for us (all spellings as originally posted). First, they noticed, as we have, as Amy Welborn recently learned, that when Andrew Sullivan says something is fact, he doesn�t need to cite it ... it just is.

Note how Sullivan doesn�t use any examples from Free Republic of how it is like DU, just that it is like DU. We need to call him on it.


And you can find similarly wacko views on the right on such websites as Free Republic, which is sometimes just as outrageous in the other direction as Democratic Underground.

Site an example

Then, as they inevitably will, they got around to noticing, hey, he�s queer.

Even those of us who are tolerant towards gays are beginning to feel as though the unholy alliance of a degenerate media and a Leninist legal system are forcing us into being the unnamed kneeling extras of some gay-porn cinematic extravaganza.


But, as usual, Sullivan�s use of �intolerant� usally is his code word for �gay hater� in his opinion

Which leads to one unusually perceptive followup:

There is a contingent of Freepers that does not like Andrew Sullivan, mainly because he�s openly gay, and some of them love using certain intellectual debate tactics to counter his arguments, along the lines of �Who cares what that faggot thinks?� Obviously, when you do that to someone with a regular column in The Times of London, eventually you�re going to get slammed in The Times of London for doing so. It�s payback.

And finally one Freeper who sees it like it is:

I enjoy a lot of the information that people provide here but there are some who express opinions that are arrogant, devisive and the mirror image of what some people post at DU. Their argument is that since they are on the conservative side then it makes them right which is really no position at all. People here hate Clinton in the way that DU hates Bush but while it is PC on FR to bash Clinton, Bush is seen as above reproach by too many. (give me a better republican than Bush to vote for and I will gladly do so!) The Rush defenders did their best to drown out those who called him a hypocrite and I have seen the zealots apply ad hominem attacks on those who question the status quo. Sorry, but if we want to appeal to more than the true believers then the level of discourse needs to keep improving.

posted by Sully 11/14/2003 01:03:00 AM


Steve Mussina suggests that Sullivan and Kaus (and indeed Musil and all the other conservatives) stop their Krugman-bashing contests long enough to note that conservative economist Paul Craig Roberts is saying pretty much the same thing (although for different reasons).

A country that substitutes foreign labor for its own domestic labor via outsourcing, offshore production and Internet hiring, a country that transfers its wealth to foreigners to pay for imports, a country that fills up with welfare-dependent multitudes while it squanders $200 billion in Iraq is a country headed for Third World status.

While the once fabulous U.S. economy erodes, the hapless Bush administration thinks its most important goal is to waste American lives and massive sums of money to force �democracy� on Middle Eastern peoples who do not want it.

posted by Sully 11/14/2003 12:46:00 AM


Since he was merely quoting a writer in the Spectator, we chose to let the bits about Fisk slide. But Jo Fish did not:

Andy�s pissed. Seems Fisk went to Baghdad, and didn�t report on any Codpiece Milestones. You know, all the stuff that should have been reported on ... by the good puppy press and journalistas. According to Sully, Fisk apparently engaged in a sleep-walking tour of the country.


Ah, but Andrew he was there ... perhaps he saw what he saw, and reported what he wanted to, not what you wanted to hear. Suggestion: use your connections and make the trip ... no Wi-Fi, they won�t pay you for speaking, and I�m sure that flak-vests in your size are available. Until you make the trip, I�d hold off criticizing any reporter who goes and doesn�t say what you want. It just makes you look more like what you are, a punk-ass 40 year-old putz. Have a nice visit. Or shut the hell up, you ChickenBlogger.

Maybe we should try to find a way to get Sullivan to Iraq whether he wants to go or not.

Then again, maybe he�s looking forward to writing more ultra-pretentious essays about winter in Provincetown ...

posted by Sully 11/14/2003 12:36:00 AM

Thursday, November 13, 2003


That money map is actually pretty interesting (WY, interestingly enough for a state where the Dems scored an upset gubernatorial victory last year, can be said to be the most heavily Republican. Who knew there were as many Dem pockets of ID as that shows?).

However, skipping through links on the blogs this morning took us ultimately to this map at Democratic Underground showing that, if a mere eight percent of voters who voted for Bush in 2000 decide it�s time for change, there will be change.

Like you said, Andy, 50-50 Nation.

posted by Sully 11/13/2003 02:29:00 PM


You know, Sullivan�s overreliance on the word �fascinating,� besides being lazy to the point of annoyance, would really have us start to wonder if he is an alien in more ways than one were it not for the fact that it�s really difficult to imagine the phrase �dominated by logic and suppressing emotion� in the same unironic descriptive sentence as �Andrew Sullivan.�

C�mon, Quiddity Quack, or someone else with toomuch time on their hands, this calls for a little Phun with Photoshop. Show us what you can do.

posted by Sully 11/13/2003 02:07:00 PM


While we�ve expressed our opinions here that Vidal�s rhetorical pose is one of the few things that we could understand wanting to be conservative over, it is a bit much of Sully to claim he�s been �slurred.� Read what Vidal actually says:

So you�d find Hamilton pretty much on the Bush side. But I can�t think of any other Founders who would. Adams would surely disapprove of Bush. He was highly moral, and I don�t think he could endure the current dishonesty. Already they were pretty bugged by a bunch of journalists who came over from Ireland and such places and were telling Americans how to do things. You know, like Andrew Sullivan today telling us how to be.

Unless you consider being identified by association with the Irish as being a slur (which, for all we know, he yet may), Sullivan is here playing the kind of victim politics he never misses an opportunity to deplore in his perceived enemies.

posted by Sully 11/13/2003 01:57:00 PM


Jo Fish also addresses Sullivan�s snarkiness over Kerry�s staff problems:

So Kerry has had some turnover? Sully among others now has Kerry going down faster than he would in a hot glory hole ... which is so wrong. There may be a lot of reasons Kerry fails (a coherent message might be one; his vote on the Iraq resolution and subsequent equivocation, another), but staff turnover and the ability to tell a staffer �hasta la bye bye� is certainly not one of them.

And what the hell is the �...he served in Vietnam� supposed to mean? So did many other Americans and immigrants, except you. Is it now OK to �Bash a Vet for Bush� �cause it's not November 11th? Such a warped and over-compensated jerk ... it boggles the mind.

Don�t worry, Jo. One day, he�ll get his.

posted by Sully 11/13/2003 01:51:00 PM


No sooner has Sullivan been tagged with the eponym of that blogger-dictionary term for taking irony seriously than he demonstrates it with the Rall piece. Does anyone who didn�t smear themselves with testosterone this morning seriously think Rall imagines Iraqi fedayeen will read it and be inspired (In fact, as Jo Fish notes, they don�t need an American cartoonist�s Internet column for that). Rather like the flyers purportedly from the Ku Klux Klan posted in some minority Detroit neighborhoods �thanking� young blacks for focusing on superficial pleasures like sex, drugs, and the hottest basketball shoes instead of improving their lot in life some years ago, it�s blindingly obvious who Rall�s real audience is, and what he wants to say.

posted by Sully 11/13/2003 01:48:00 PM


Today, Alterman takes it to Testosterella on his now famous Times magazine piece:

Now the scientific evidence is in and supports Shulevitz one hundred percent. As the Post puts it: �There is no evidence that the testosterone being used by a growing number of American men to boost their strength, mood or virility is doing them any good despite the claims being made for the hormone, an expert panel of doctors concluded yesterday.� So the Times Magazine may or may not have fired Sully on Raines� orders � there is still no evidence for this, even though Howie Kurtz trumpeted the story as Andy�s unpaid PR agent � but the upshot is, they were lucky they did. Think how many embarrassing corrections they�d have to issue if they continued to let him get away with sloppy, self-serving narcissism like the above. (And we at Altercation will be counting the days until we see a correction.) And far be it for Altercation to give medical advice, but perhaps it�s time for a few bloggers (and radio hosts) on the extreme right to switch to Asprin. I�m pretty sure that one every other day helps prevent heart disease.

We don�t know if this has anything to do with the lead editorial in today�s Grey Lady, certain to be linked to and snarled at by the Muscular Woodchuck �

An expert panel assembled by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, warned in a report yesterday that the rapidly growing use of testosterone therapy has outpaced the meager scientific evidence about its benefits and risks. Testosterone therapy has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for treating a narrow group of clinical conditions marked by very low testosterone levels, yet doctors have been prescribing it much more widely. Last year more than 800,000 patients, mostly middle-aged men, were treated with testosterone.

There is preliminary evidence from small studies, but nothing close to proof, that testosterone therapy may improve men�s sex drive, strength, cognitive function and sense of well-being. There is no compelling evidence of harm, but there are worries that testosterone may increase prostate cancer or cardiovascular problems.

� but we�d be the first to submit the collected bloggings of Andrew Sullivan as evidence that it degrades mental functionings, at least (But when you get raw muscled glutes that love to milk hot lads (and loads) out of it, who cares?)

There is also a certain irony in this coming out in the wake of that utterly embarassing Kim du Toit piece that we won�t even link to (Wonder if Sullivan, arbiter of all things truly bearish and masculine and self-proclaimed gender patriot, had to say?) because everyone else has done so already.

posted by Sully 11/13/2003 01:41:00 PM

Wednesday, November 12, 2003


Nicholas Kristof�s Bush-bashing-bashing in today�s Times (which you can bet a stack of Bill Bennett poker chips that Sullivan will be linking to at some point) has already engendered a fair degree of comment from around Left Blogistan. Atrios takes a passing jibe, and Steve Mussina and TBogg go into more depth.

That doesn�t mean we�re not going to take a crack, as we so often do, because we have noticed without fail that the basher-bashers often reveal more about where they�re coming from then they do about Bush-bashing.

So it is with Nick.

To �shorter� him, it would go like this:

Because I got an email saying nasty things about Bush, the whole of American political discourse is turning into Thatcherite England, which really sucks.

Actually, maybe that�s why you won�t see Sullivan linking to it ... that�s why he feels so much at home now.

Mussina has pinned his most insulting assumptions down: �They don�t believe in evolution, and if that upsets us, it�s our fault?�

To that whole passage we should like to answer that first, we have rediscovered a certain level of political comfort in speaking from ourselves honestly rather than to others insincerely (does Kristof honestly believe sentiments on matter so deep and fundamental to our being can just be turned on and off like a light bulb for the sake of political expedience? If so, he�s far worse than what he would condemn) and second, that we have remembered that we do not want a politics that is changed by the world. We want a politics that changes the world (to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton).

We would also like to point out that Kristof�s argument rests on a fallacy we exposed several weeks ago:

The left should have learned from Newt Gingrich that rage impedes understanding � and turns off voters. That�s why President Bush was careful in 2000, unlike many in his party, to project amiability and optimism.

But he never rejected that rage outright, and as Al Franken is practically alone in observing in his book, there was an implicit threat: elect Gore and we�ll keep this up for another four years.

What�s interesting is what Kristof doesn�t say. He doesn�t try to say that the allegations against Bush are ridiculous, mainly because he doesn�t discuss any of them.

One wonders if he now realizes he blew his chance with his infamous column from back in the late spring when he added up the increasing (even then) evidence of executive perfidy on the WMDs that weren�t ... and then let Bush off the hook.

Because behind this column isn�t, for once, a scared conservative. Rather, this is the lament of a guy who�s worked hard and kissed ass to get to where a great many people stare in awed, hushed reverence at his words every other morning ... only to suddenly realize that being an Esteemed Voice of the Sensible Center may no longer count for very much in a Second Century New Media Paradigm���� world where highly partisan bloggers drive the media agenda, not you.

We know ... we know. We actually sound a little like the Blog Queen here. But there is the occasional grain of truth to all this triumphalism.

Maybe, Nick, you could head it off if you actually grew yourself a pair.

ADDENDUM: Eric Alterman takes no prisoners:

Liberal wimpiness is the far-right�s best friend. Take Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has done magnificent work in bringing the crisis in Africa to the mainstream, demanding that liberals lay down and die before the hard-right steamroller that is the Bush administration.

posted by Sully 11/12/2003 09:19:00 PM


We had meant to say something about Daniel Drezner�s Slate piece scoffing at the idea that Halliburton was getting some big crony-capitalism bonanza in Iraq.

But, as TBogg tells us, the Center for Public Integrity took it upin themselves to do so in The Fray, Slate�s discussion board.

We did, however, find a contracting process riddled with irregularities. To give one example, USAID�s Inspector General concluded that the agency �did not adhere to the guidance on practical steps to avoid organizational conflicts of interest,� in the awarding of an Iraqi education contract potentially worth $157 million to Creative Associates International Inc.

Four months before that contract was awarded, USAID hosted a roundtable discussion of Iraq's educational system, which a Creative representative? � former USAID employee Frank Dall? � attended. Creative had its own seat at the table when USAID discussed how to revamp Iraqi schools; no other company that bid on the contract had such access. Perhaps not surprisingly, Creative submitted the winning bid. We�re not sure how Dr. Drezner defines �cronyism," but it appears to us (and USAID�s Inspector General as well) that this wasn�t exactly the fairest way to award a contract.

Perhaps Dr. Drezner should read what we actually wrote, rather than what he thinks we wrote.

Well said. That such huge contracts were awarded on a no-bid basis and other such endruns was always the real scandal, not whether there was any correlation between the size of campaign contributions and the total business awarded.

Not that Sullivan will link to it, anyway.

posted by Sully 11/12/2003 08:39:00 PM


From a pro-Palestinian perspective, there appear to be a lot of problems with the BBC too:

The coverage is always stripped of its historical context. Although Palestine was a former British colony and the UK bears a considerable responsibility for the calamity that affected the native population, one never hears any historical references to that.


Unquestionably, Israeli deaths are deemed more important than Palestinian deaths; much more extended coverage is devoted to the suicide bombing casualties than to incidents where greater numbers of Palestinians are killed. Also, BBC TeleText and Online news refer to Israelis as having been "killed," thus denoting intent, whereas Palestinians invariably �die�; these media always enclose massacres and assassinations with quotation marks. Israeli killings and violent acts are always labeled �retaliation,� thus justified.


In BBC Online several articles dealing with Palestine contain a �Click here for a different viewpoint�; �all these point to articles written by Israeli embassy officials. In no other conflict does one find such an alternative view. This warped notion of balance irks the BBC journalists whose work has been so affected.

Let�s hope Mr. Balen can help clear this all up.

posted by Sully 11/12/2003 01:13:00 AM


Jo Fish adds to criticism of Sully�s take on Naomi Klein.

Our favorite little princess seems to think that over here on the Left we�re all worked up about the outbreak of Freedom of Speech and Association in Iraq. Well, last time I checked, there was some department or another at the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) taking care to �moderate� the Free Speech stuff ... and M-16s aimed by the Neocons and wielded by soldiers can pretty effectively take on the Association problems when the 1600 Crew wants �order� in the streets. Sully says that what concerns us most is that �capitalism� is breaking out ... right, if your last name is Blount, or your corporate maildrop in Bermuda for tax purposes is under �Halliburton,� or you have the blessing of the Saudi or Bush Royal families.

I guess that he never got the �Go Screw Iraq for Fun and Profit� memo from Perle & Feith ... or he could be working on his first or second million; or he never got the memo, because well, they just don�t like him that much.

posted by Sully 11/12/2003 12:58:00 AM


So, when Josh Marshall runs a contest to come up with proof of the �imminent threat� pudding, it�s desperate, but when Mickey Kaus runs a far lamer one to trash Paul Krugman for being �wrong� (which he wasn�t, just overly pessimistic to those with an overly optimistic point of view), it�s a hoot?

Yes, I know this is getting a little petty. We all make mistakes.

Care to acknowledge how wrong you were about the List Pim Fortuyn becoming the Perotism of Europe? (Which, in fact, it turned out to be)

But Krugman is so wonderfully easy to tease � and you can get such a kick out of it � that it�s irresistible.

Which is why we do this, too.

posted by Sully 11/12/2003 12:51:00 AM


If Bush sticks to his protectionist guns, he really should be pummeled by real economic conservatives.

But he won�t be, because they all understand (except for some stragglers) that any criticism of W just helps the terrorists!

posted by Sully 11/12/2003 12:49:00 AM

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


We can�t recall personally claiming that Saddam had no WMDS before the war, only that a) he didn�t have nukes and wasn�t anywhere close to doing so, and b) any bio or chemical stocks that survived the first Gulf War or Desert Fox were too minimal and/or too deteriorated to pose any serious threat to the U.S. or any other Western nation.

For example, here�s Labour Against the War�s counterdossier., which draws this distinction quite helpfully:

However, the amount Iraq is thought to have produced in the 1980s was found to be greater than the quantity that Iraq or the inspectors verified as having destroyed. The discrepancy between the two levels is the amount that remains � in the inspectors� language � �unaccounted for.�

The levels of agents that are unaccounted for in this way is large: 600 metric tonnes of chemical agents, such as mustard gas, VX and sarin; and extensive amounts of biological agents, including thousands of litres of anthrax as well as quantities of botulinum toxin, aflatoxin, and gas gangrene, all of which had been weaponised before 1991. But the fact that these quantities are unaccounted for does not mean that they still exist. Iraq has never provided a full declaration of its use of chemical and biological weapons against Iran in the 1980-88 war, and destroyed large quantities of its own stocks of these weapons in 1991 without keeping sufficient proof of its actions.

In some cases, it is quite clear that the stocks no longer exist in usable form. Most chemical and biological agents are subject to processes of deterioration.

posted by Sully 11/11/2003 01:43:00 PM


We could only conclude when we saw that Sullivan had linked to that Nation column, even before we ourselves had read it, that he was grossly misrepresenting it, and as usual we were right.

Here�s what he hopes you won�t read:

Any movement serious about Iraqi self-determination must call not only for an end to Iraq�s military occupation, but to its economic colonization as well. That means reversing the shock therapy reforms that US occupation chief Paul Bremer has fraudulently passed off as �reconstruction� and canceling all privatization contracts flowing from these reforms.

How can such an ambitious goal be achieved? Easy: by showing that Bremer�s reforms were illegal to begin with. They clearly violate the international convention governing the behavior of occupying forces, the Hague Regulations of 1907 (the companion to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, both ratified by the United States), as well as the US Army's own code of war.

The Hague Regulations state that an occupying power must respect �unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.� The Coalition Provisional Authority has shredded that simple rule with gleeful defiance. Iraq�s Constitution outlaws the privatization of key state assets, and it bars foreigners from owning Iraqi firms. No plausible argument can be made that the CPA was �absolutely prevented� from respecting those laws, and yet two months ago, the CPA overturned them unilaterally.

On September 19, Bremer enacted the now-infamous Order 39. It announced that 200 Iraqi state companies would be privatized; decreed that foreign firms can retain 100 percent ownership of Iraqi banks, mines and factories; and allowed these firms to move 100 percent of their profits out of Iraq. The Economist declared the new rules a �capitalist dream.�

Order 39 violated the Hague Regulations in other ways as well. The convention states that occupying powers �shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.�


In case the CPA was still unclear on this detail, the US Army�s Law of Land Warfare states that �the occupant does not have the right of sale or unqualified use of [nonmilitary] property.� This is pretty straightforward: Bombing something does not give you the right to sell it. There is every indication that the CPA is well aware of the lawlessness of its privatization scheme. In a leaked memo written on March 26, British Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith warned Prime Minister Tony Blair that �the imposition of major structural economic reforms would not be authorized by international law.�

So far, most of the controversy surrounding Iraq�s reconstruction has focused on the waste and corruption in the awarding of contracts. This badly misses the scope of the violation: Even if the selloff of Iraq were conducted with full transparency and open bidding, it would still be illegal for the simple reason that Iraq is not America's to sell.

The Security Council's recognition of the United States and Britain�s occupation authority provides no legal cover. The UN resolution passed in May specifically required the occupying powers to �comply fully with their obligations under international law including in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907.�

How any of this is about capitalism or making Iraqis rich is beyond us, unless this is the latest spin-point emanating from the RNC or AEI.

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


There can and must be legal equality for gay citizens. But there can and must also be space for those who dissent to have their say.

Does it strike anyone else as funny that he gets all squishy on this one in a way that he would never tolerate in the war on terror?

Andy, let�s go over it one more time. Fundamentalists, whether Christian or Muslim, will never �live up to the same civic principles� you commendably attempt to uphold here, except when they can reasonably ensure that it will give them the result they want. When you consider yourself beholden to higher authorities than man, how could anyone reasonably expect otherwise?

Shortly after 9/11, you understood this. You told readers of the Times magazine:

The blind recourse to texts embraced as literal truth, the injunction to follow the commandments of God before anything else, the subjugation of reason and judgment and even conscience to the dictates of dogma: these can be exhilarating and transformative ... If you believe that there is an eternal afterlife and that endless indescribable torture awaits those who disobey God�s law, then it requires no huge stretch of imagination to make sure that you not only conform to each diktat but that you also encourage and, if necessary, coerce others to do the same. The logic behind this is impeccable. Sin begets sin. The sin of others can corrupt you as well. The only solution is to construct a world in which such sin is outlawed and punished and constantly purged � by force if necessary. It is not crazy to act this way if you believe these things strongly enough. In some ways, it�s crazier to believe these things and not act this way.

In a world of absolute truth, in matters graver than life and death, there is no room for dissent and no room for theological doubt ...

You concluded that the Constitution was our safeguard against the American Taliban. They know this too, so they have undertaken after Texas v. Lawrence to change it.

Do you realize? You cannot simultaneously uphold the values of civil society and fight against fundamentalism when that fundamentalism regards that civil society as being illegitimzed by its inevitable result.

Fundamentalists have declared war on you and yours, Andrew. They will not let anything stop them. They would see nothing wrong with in turn prosecuting the advocacy of gay marriage and calling it an �imminent threat� to the social order.

No, the good bishop ought not to be charged with hate speech for simply calling homosexuality a psychiatric disorder. We believe that hate speech is only worth prosecuting when it directly advocates or incites violence or other criminal activity against a group.

But neither should his comments be taken in isolation. The fundamentalists need to made to understand in their turn that we understand just what it is they seek and how they seek it, and that we will not let them impose themselves upon us. They need to understand that, in prosecuting their war through words (at the moment) that the battle will be joined.

posted by Sully 11/11/2003 01:14:00 PM


It�s only fair, isn�t it now, that Sullivan show us a picture of himself from 1978 (back when he was writing his clandestine diary about his crushes on the school�s rugby players, remember?). Or the most embarassing personal photo he can find (besides this, of course).

posted by Sully 11/11/2003 12:55:00 PM

Monday, November 10, 2003


Tim Maddog has something to share:

On a semi-related note, Andrew Sullivan fails laughably at �debunking� Josh Marshall�s �imminent threat� contest results while simultaneously quoting Bush asking �Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?� Uh, I dunno. Try this search. Or this one. Sullivan wrote that nonsensical post the same day as the bombing � one day after the U.S. State Department shut down its missions there because it knew of the threat. Go read Sullivan and laugh � out loud! Roll on the floor, even.

(Links in original)

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 02:08:00 PM


Jesse joins the gang tackle:

Andrew Sullivan, predictable as ever, says that all the quotes gathered to show that the Bush Administration portrayed Iraq as an imminent threat don�t count because there are a lot of lapsed Catholics quotes from Donald Rumsfeld to the contrary. He pulls one of my favorite conservative rhetorical tricks (David Frum did this once), which is to link to something but not directly quote it, and then to essentially lie, pull a few selected quotes from a list of things, and act as if that�s all that was said.


Well, Richard Perle says that there is an imminent threat. Dan Bartlett says there�s an imminent threat. Ari Fleischer says there�s an imminent threat. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld all used synonyms for �imminent,� but apparently Andy skipped that portion of grammar class in favor of writing tersely worded missives to the school nurse about the need for stolid resolve in the face of the impending chicken pox epidemic.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 01:53:00 PM


Someone please tell Sullivan (no, wait a minute, we sound too much like a Wall Street Journal editorialist) that simply using the same phrase doesn�t leave you vulnerable to the same criticism.

(In the linked page, Albright is referring to 1998�s Operation Desert Fox, with a very specific listing of targets destroyed at that time by U.S. and British forces ... an operation that, BTW, even David Kay had to backhandedly admit was instrumental in reducing Saddam�s WMD capability down to, basically, impure thoughts. Quite different from the current enterprise.)

UPDATE: Jo Fish goes into more detail:

Sully has another post up, the logic of which defies explanation ... unless viewed through the prism of low-road wingnuttery; no surprise there. In worming his way throught the giant �Mission Accomplished� debacle of the Crawford Village Idiot, he does more contortions than Rosemary Woods operating a tape machine to show that Madeline Albright might have used the words �Mission Accomplished� with respect to Iraq during the Clinton Years.


As logical as this is, it makes no difference to HRH, after all the loyal opposition still maintains the actual or implied �imminence� words are out there, whether uttered by the Village Idiot or not...everyone was putting those words into any speechifying he did by implication. Imminence was never a controversial point until no WMDs were found, and the mission has turned out to be far from over. It�s a shame that Sully and his ilk have gotten so defensive about the whole imminence thing, the more they doth protest and come up with specious examples like Secretary Albright�s words, the more I think that they never really grew up or left the pre-puberty �nyah-nyah� sandbox stage of life.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 01:48:00 PM


Also via Josh, we got to this Jacob Weisberg piece in Slate we somehow missed that makes the same point about the direct connection between the neocons� intellectual roots back when and the failings of our Iraq policy today.

The assumption that events will conform to a preconceived model is a failing to which neoconservatives are notably vulnerable. Part of this may be Marxist residue that never quite washed off. The intellectual descendants of Trotskyists, the neocons find the idea of revolution from above, in which intellectuals and ideas play the crucial role, instinctively appealing. Many neocons also tend to buy into overly deterministic, Hegelian theories of history (see Fukuyama, Frank). In this sense, the assumption that Iraq was destined to become a liberal democracy with just a nudge from the United States is an error akin to Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick�s Hannah Arendt-inspired view that Communist totalitarian societies could never reform from within. There was nothing wrong with that theory either, except that it happened to be completely wrong.

And then he turns to Perle, Wolfowitz and all those others who had �other priorities� during Vietnam:

Another reason the neocons go for grand theories may be that their primary experience tends to come from the classroom, rather than the real world. Colin Powell, who took fire in Vietnam, has a visceral sense of what happens when a military engagement turns sour that those who served out the war at the University of Chicago may lack. What�s more, few neoconservatives have cultivated a deep appreciation or understanding of other cultures � unless you count the Athens of Pericles or Machiavelli�s Florence.


Remind us again that it�s supposed to liberals who are pointy-heads out of touch with the real world?

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 10:51:00 AM


Josh Marshall doesn�t let Sullivan off.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 10:44:00 AM


Thanks to Steve Mussina for reminding us that we�d forgotten to link to this Times Week In Review piece by Milt Bearden, who formerly helped run the covert war in Afghanistan, on the similarities between that conflict and Iraq.

He seems to be answering Sullivan somewhat.

To misread these attacks as desperation is dangerous. In the last two weeks, there have been multiple attacks on the coalition headquarters in Baghdad, with mortars and rockets landing inside the secure green zone. Shoulder-fired missiles have brought down a Chinook helicopter, killing 16 soldiers. The crash of a Blackhawk helicopter, killing an additional six, is still under investigation, but according to some reports a rocket-propelled grenade may have brought it down. One or two casualties are logged almost daily.

Ordinary criminals and thugs could not deliver this kind of punch. Mortar tubes, base plates and ammunition have to be smuggled to within a few thousand yards of the green zone, carefully set up and then launched either in a shoot-and-scoot attack or with timed delay.

Similarly, a rocket attack on the Rashid Hotel while the deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, was there required imagination, ability and training. Die-hards, maybe, but focused ones with a strategy and the skills to carry it out.

These growing attacks against American forces have two clear goals: inflict casualties and force a reaction that alienates the local population. Both are being achieved, as the quick-response raids by coalition troops to seize those behind the attacks fuel Iraqi alienation.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 10:26:00 AM


Kevin Drum puts it into plain English.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 10:18:00 AM


Dowd-bashing is nothing new for our Blog Queen, in fact it almost seems to be an autonomous reflex to any sort of slow Sunday. But today�s stands out for several reasons.

1) Two posts. Gawd, is she worth this much?

2) This verbal explosion:

You�re all aware of Ms Dowd's take on the current administration�s policy toward Saddam: it�s all a function of their testosterone/delusions of grandeur/stupidity/mobsterism/small penises/imperial dreams

She makes fun of the Big T! How dare she!


But Ms Dowd wrote it six years ago � and now blames the Bushies for allegedly agreeing with her.

The Bushies weren�t in power six years ago, Andrew. Not relevant to the current debate.

4) At long last comes the projection:

All this reveals is that it�s a little futile attempting to criticize Maureen Dowd. She'll write anything that comes into her head at the moment. There�s no argument, no thread of consistency that I can glean from one moment to the next.

She hasn�t responded to Sullivan�s tenuous criticism of her on his widely-read weblog! Imagine that!

ADDENDUM: 5) When you have to make on your heds sound like Mickey Kaus�s, you�re pretty bad.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 10:16:00 AM


The Shafer piece has some most excellent stories of Sullivan being as jerky in public (even to a deserving target) as he is on his blog:

But it was Andrew Sullivan who set aside Glass�s psychobabble with a set of searing questions and denunciations. Sullivan, the New Republic editor who had hired Glass, accused him of compounding his moral errors by publishing The Fabulist for a reported six-figure advance. (Glass refused to confirm or deny the amount when Sullivan asked directly.) How can you defend profiting from your betrayal by publishing this book, Sullivan wanted to know, how can you so shamelessly exploit your fame and dare to appear on an ethics panel?

Glass, if he had any balls (which he doesn�t) should have immediately turned around and said �PRMA. Pot. Kettle.�

�If you had any integrity, you would go away,� Sullivan growled with a hint of a grin, dismissing Glass�s excuse that he invented his stories to win love from his magazine peers. �You were loved [at the magazine],� Sullivan continued. �I didn�t know anybody at the New Republic who was as loved as you.�

Boy, it must have hurt his ego to admit that.

Anybody else would have spontaneously combusted at Sullivan�s assault, or sputtered out a defense, or punched him out.

We can only hope.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 10:02:00 AM


That�s why some of us are still fighting in a different and far safer way over here as well.

The timing of that statement juxtaposed with Tom Tomorrow�s latest makes blogging this remark superfluous.

Oh, by the way, is that �[o]ne thing the blogger gets right� a subtle way of suggesting that he�s wrong about things like this?:

Yes friends, the information policy of the CPA and Governing Council, is simply a flop.


Yes, to be sure, there is the INN (Iraqi News Network ), and the Forces Radio. As for the former you have to ask the patriotic compatriot who returned from exile to direct it, and then resigned and left back to exile in disgust. Whereas the latter, is like presenting a dish of �english faggots� and cold potatoes to someone accustomed to �Kouzi,� �Dolma,� �Masgouf� and all the other flamboyant, �Roccoco style� fantasmagoria of Messopotamian cuisine with six thousand years of heritage behind it.

I advice the concerned to give Saddam a temporary safe conduct and a short contract to teach them one or two things about the art of propaganda. After the expiry of which temporay reprieve he may hide again and the Fox Hunt may resume.

They have not even succeeded in restarting the Iraqi Sattelite Station, which Saddam managed to Keep going under bombing until the very last moment.

There are so many brilliant iraqi orators and commentators who can pulverise and mobilise the people.


An Iraqi Sattelite Station must immediately be started, and all the talented well known Iraqis who are eminently capable to run it and counter attack this massive propaganda campaign by the enemy, recalled and recruited. The Station should beam long hours and compete effectively and present the information in the flamboyant and spicy style appropriate to the mass taste of the iraqi populace.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 09:46:00 AM


TBogg is the latest to call Sullivan on his ridiculous quailing when confronted with a mountain of evidence that the Administration did, in fact, sell Iraq an imminent threat:

Nutted by reality, Sullivan immediately changed the rules of the game (hello, Calvinball). If Sullivan had any credibility left prior to this, I would have to say it�s deader than Bob Dole�s dick ...

BTW, Tom, that permalink didn�t work ... we had to take it out of the source. For some reason that�s the only post of yours on which this is so.

posted by Sully 11/10/2003 09:37:00 AM

Sunday, November 09, 2003


Steve Mussina recommends to Sullivan�s attention the Times profile of the man who started the boycottcbs site.

posted by Sully 11/09/2003 04:27:00 PM


Roger Ailes gives Sullivan credit for trashing a deserving Derbyshire but nonetheless points out some bad English in the process.

posted by Sully 11/09/2003 04:20:00 PM


Officer Blog also takes exception to Sullivan�s inability to reconcile his joy over The Reagans� exile to Showtime and his elsewhere-stated support of free speech:

i spend a lot of time attacking andrew sullivan and i'm not really sure why. to be honest, i actually like some of his longer magazine pieces (you know, the ones that an editor has to look at to ensure that the piece is intellectually consistent, well argued, and devoid of too many instances of glaring hypocrisy and paranoid hysteria). but when it comes to his blog, i have to make fun, because it's just too easy.


i can just imagine the situation. the boyfriend went to bed hours ago; the beagle�s snoozing on the couch; andy�s just rubbed a whole tube of andro on his newly naired chest, and he�s starting to feel a little giddy. Which explains why, a scant three minutes later, he writes this post, in which he applauds as a �new media triumph ... CBS�s welcome decision to punt on its anti-Reagan biopic� ... now, i never went to no harvard, but i got me a good sniffer, and i know when i smell the putrid stench of hypocrisy. in fact, it smells like horseshit, and let me tell you, right now i think a herd of incontinent clydesdales just galloped by


even if this despcription of the movie is 100% correct, remember, you�re a self-styled "FIRST AMENDMENT ABSOLUTIST" which means you should be outraged � OUTRAGED � to learn that a small interest group pressured a media outlet into spiking programming simply because said programming disagreed with said focus group�s agenda.

in fact, what i think you meant to say is that you are a first amendment relativist and that you are a staunch defender of every american's right to free speech provided they don�t say anything that runs contrary to the opinions expressed by (including but not limited to): the reagan and bush administrations; the rnc; fox news channel; charles krauthammer; the wall street journal editorial page; or any other of your sacrosanct heroes, the fond memories of which must be preserved for all eternity and must not be besmirched by any castro-loving, terrorist-adoring, islamofascist-supporting, america-hating, left-leaning media mogul like les moonves, who � as the head of a multi-billion dollar media corporation � has an obvious stake in perpetuating the current system but nevertheless harbors a deep-seated wish to turn the united states into stalinist russia, if he only had the chance.

God ... sure you�re not secretly Jo Fish by chance?

posted by Sully 11/09/2003 04:20:00 PM


Josh Marshall responds to Sullivan�s comment on his contest in a manner that should clear up any illusion that he has any respect for Sullivan anymore:

I�d heard that Andrew Sullivan was preparing a �counterblast� to my recent writings on the �imminent threat� ridiculousness. Well, now it�s up. And you can see it here: "Marshall Comes Up Empty".

Most revealing nugget: Sullivan found the direct quotations chosen by TPM readers so weak, skewerable, and unconvincing that he fails to quote, mention or even make reference to any of them.

Imagine that.

(Also note the funny-business with the Rumsfeld quote.)

posted by Sully 11/09/2003 04:01:00 PM


Jibes are pouring in at Sullivan from all over today, or at least that we have been able to find.

Heads and shoulders above the rest, though, is Brilliantine�s lengthy evisceration of Christopher Hitchens� piece in Slate which we dealt with a few days ago, against which ours (linked and quoted) is a mere complement.

Best bit (of many):

Translation: If the CIA can�t find evidence to back my thesis, it proves that the CIA is in cahoots with Saddam.

But don�t miss his digging through what Hitchens was writing back when he was an insufferable leftist blowhard, in 1990 during the first Gulf War:

Most liberal misgivings about the impending war with Iraq are focused, as usual, on the risk of failure. What about the problems of success? Not a single columnist or politician has answered the question, what would happen to an Iraq that was �decapitated� or �surgically struck?� Do �we� have a democratic candidate for the post-Saddam era? (Improbable, given the romance with him that ended in August.)

Geez, what was he then? Sober?

And finally:

So, not only do Hitchens and Sullivan kiss each others� asses everytime they put their pen to paper and assist one another in violating the corpse of poor old George Orwell in order to cloak themselves with intellectual respectability, they also crib each others� phrases and arguments.

Just go read it, already.

posted by Sully 11/09/2003 03:55:00 PM

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The fisking of Norah Vincent

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


Excerpts from Lee Siegel's 2001 Harper's piece

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Why we blog the way we blog

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Who Was That Masked Man?

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How the media lynched O.J. Simpson

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Eve Tushnet's classic zinger

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"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

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"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

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