Saturday, February 07, 2004
MORE PEOPLE WE’RE NOT:
Via Atrios, we learn that David Neiwert, a Real Journalist, doesn’t think much of Sullivan either:
He also cultivates a running polemic against conservative writer Andrew Sullivan, whose website is one of the most visited blogs on the world wide web. “My issues with Sullivan really revolve around his crappy journalism,” he says. “He wrote a piece about hate crimes for the New York Times Magazine, for instance, that was oblivious to the reality of what hate crimes are all about. He just crudely misrepresented how the laws work, and I thought, ‘This is somebody who's just writing straight out of his ass.’”
(Link added, obviously).
posted by Sully 2/07/2004 12:37:00 AM
Thursday, February 05, 2004
Arthur Silber reports that, over in Britain, Spectator editor and Tory MP Boris Johnson, whom Sully has described as a friend and shows no hesitation about quoting when he agrees with him, has come down hard on the Hutton report in some fine British parliamentary rhetoric:
Blair, Hoon, Scarlett, the whole lot of them, have been sprayed with more whitewash than a Costa Brava timeshare. Hutton has succumbed to blindness of Nelsonian proportions. As snow-jobs go, this beats the Himalayas.
With unerring inaccuracy, he has trained his guns at exactly the wrong target. He has blasted the BBC when, as I will repeat to my dying day, it was Blair, Campbell and Hoon who were the guilty men.
It is extraordinary, reading the Hutton inquiry evidence, to see the grip that Downing Street exercised on the language of what purported to be an intelligence document. ...
Public and Parliament were presented with justifications for war that (a) did not reflect the opinions of those who knew most about Iraqi weapons; and (b) had been in key ways embellished by Alastair Campbell. Neither of these staggering facts would have come to light, had it not been for Andrew Gilligan.
In the light of what we now know, the Today broadcast of 6.07am was justified reporting. The data were unreliable, the spooks were unhappy, notably about the 45-minute claim, and Campbell "sexed it up" to the point of invention. He changed the mood of the sentence, as grammarians might put it, from the conditional to the indicative, and his intention was to make the threat sound more scary.
You do not have to oppose the war - and I supported the removal of Saddam - to see that is news worth reporting. What makes the Government's conduct contemptible is not just that it denied the story, but found the source of the story and put him before the public, in the hope that he would help it quash it. Unable to deny the story, but ashamed to confess that he had been the source, Kelly killed himself.
posted by Sully 2/05/2004 12:12:00 PM
FROM VANITY TO INANITY:
Jo Fish takes Sullivan to task over his Botox carping:
One thing Sullivan should never comment on is the use of any medications, for cosmetic or other reasons by any other living human being (or even dead ones for that matter). The Duchess goes after Kerry today for Botox (I guess he finally got around to reading MoDo). So what if Kerry wants to spend his money on Botox after all it's his money. Not Sullivan’s. And why is this even worthy of being an issue? Is the Sully hoping that somehow the whole issue will time-warp back to the ’60s and cause Kerry not to go to Vietnam, be awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Three Purple Hearts while Commander Codpiece was in a drunken stupor somewhere near Valdosta, Ga.?
Quiddity Quack, meanwhile, resurrects an old favorite.
posted by Sully 2/05/2004 12:07:00 PM
LAST WEEK WAS FLIP, NOW MEET FLOP:
The Democrats, as recently as last month the party of leftists bent on a political hara-kiri not seen since the British Labor Party of 1982, are suddenly cagey strategists. Bush’s TANG/AANG lost years, to which there wasn’t much a few days ago, now “needs more focus.”
After Valentine’s Day, though, look for those old storylines to return.
posted by Sully 2/05/2004 12:04:00 PM
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
ALTERMAN ON THE ATTACK:
Eric starts to sound a little like us.
[E]very time I think the guy has peaked, he manages to surprise me. Imagine two anonymous people on the planet: One guy is a “GayCatholicToryGAPmodel” who takes credit for liberating Iraq with his modem, and one guy fought with heroism in a war for his country, both in Vietnam and when he returned. So guess who is a “pompous, do-nothing, faux-populist, Establishment blow-hard with the Vietnam obsession”? I wonder how many bullets the tough-guy blogger has taken for his obsessions. (Anybody ever aim an AK-47 at that P-town toilet?)
That gives us an idea. Why doesn’t Sullivan really show up Atrios by posting his home telephone number and address in Provincetown right there on his website? Or just refer people to us if they really want to know.
posted by Sully 2/04/2004 04:40:00 PM
WHERE THE BLOGGERS HAVE NO NAME, YET AGAIN:
Sullivan remains on the anonymity kick again today by picking up on a now-thoroughly-discredited Salon piece totally missing the point of Atrios’s anonymity (so discredited we’re not even linking to it, especially since Salon can’t find a daypass sponsor. Atrios himself notes the hypocrisy of Salon here, and TAPped’s Nick Confessore goes into more depth. (Oh, by the way, not only is Sullivan defending Kristof a rare sight, one can find counterexamples of Atrios being insulted fairly close to home).
It has been suggested, because of Sullivan’s own vulnerability on this topic, his slaps at Atrios are really a backhanded way of getting at us.
Well, deal, Captain. We are composed purely of argument ... no physical body needed. If you find personal attacks annoying, remember you opened the door. If you dislike being called on your casual errors of fact, post corrections. We respond to your words, and you respond to ours. That’s how blogging works. We do not feel, as we have discovered so many big-league journalists who descend into this muck seem to do, only those with Ivy League degrees and résumés are worth dignifying with replies to their counterarguments.
By the way, Sullivan, if you’re reading this, you missed the deadline. You know what we’re talking about ... and soon enough, dear readers, you will too.
UPDATE: Gawker on this subject:
Come on, anonymous folk: take those 2-bucks-a-word magazine gigs that will edit every bit of your own style out of your writing and then not pay you until the next fiscal year! It's fun, really!
A good point, actually.
And, inevitably, The Horse:
Attempting to establish a “standard” that anonymous speech be considered unworthy of serious consideration is simply a way to marginalize the opinions of those who are not "official" members of a club that has utterly failed in its role as guardians of our democracy, and to build phony credibility for that club.
posted by Sully 2/04/2004 04:35:00 PM
MICHAEL MOORE: SECRET REPUBLICAN OPERATIVE?:
The FactCheck page on Bush’s Air Guard service or the lack thereof has been eagerly linked to by warbloggers ever since ABC’s Peter Jennings made the mistake of giving life to the story by questioning Wesley Clark about it, as Moore had referred to Bush as a deserter when endorsing Clark. This led to a story in today’s Washington Post, and finally in turn to the White House complaining about it.
Of course, there isn’t much to the desertion charge. Moore, as he too often tends to, overplayed his hand (though, to be fair, he admitted it and apologized — will Sullivan link to that? Don’t expect it to happen) in calling Bush a deserter. Although under military law it is technically true that any absence without leave for 30 days or more can be considered desertion, a capital offense, in practice that only applies during wartime (Although George McGovern, who knows a thing or two about war and combat aviation, is less charitable).
However, what we see going on here is a classic conservative tactic, made easier by Moore having provided the original exaggeration: Debunk the easily-debunked exaggeration and pretend that settles it. It is thus technically true for FactCheck to say:
The fact is Bush was honorably discharged without ever being officially accused of desertion or being away without official leave.
That, of course, leaves unresolved the problem that Bush seems to have been awfully cavalier about performing his Guard service, and the military equally cavalier about letting him get away with it. As Josh Marshall puts it, you have to give Bush the benefit of a great deal of doubt and allow for some incredible coincidences and lapses thereof.
It’s good to see it finally getting aired, because as Josh also notes, whatever some Republicans may be thinking in the way of spin, the issue was scarcely dealt with in the national press four years ago.
But this comes with a caveat from us. Working in the Republicans’ favor, much like Harken (with which it bears some similiarities) is the sheer complexity of it. Focus on one aspect of the scandal/mystery and you may have to take positions at odds with other aspects (example: Claiming Bush was trying to avoid Vietnam service by training on the F-102, shortly to be phased out of service, causes a problem when you say that his suspension from flying is all the more mysterious because F-102s were necessary at the time to fly reconnaissance missions in Vietnam. Either the plane was going out of service or it wasn’t. YOu can’t look like you’re having it both ways).
Also, these aspects allow Bush’s defenders to shift discussions from one area to others less problematic as need be to make him look good or less bad. We’ve decided, with help as reference from Quiddity Quack’s table for those of you not familiar with the basics of the story, to boil these down to individual allegations with observations on how to play them:
1. Bush relied on his favoritism to get into the Guard, get commissioned and get into pilot training. This is just so indisputable that Republicans should stipulate to it, although probably with the addendum that Lloyd Bentsen’s son got similar treatment (Which leads us to suggest that a good story for someone in the national media to pursue as part of this would be to find out what the younger Bentsen did in the Air Guard, too, and maybe talk to him. His service records might be an interesting contrast).
2. Bush was trying to avoid service in Vietnam. The point here is that he checked on the box on his application that he did not want to go overseas. Yes, he could have been sent anyway. But in a plane being phased out (if you want to use that) and, more importantly, he had not logged the appropriate amount of flying time (did he try? Would he have been likely to make those 200 hours in the course of normal training? We need more input from those in the know) to volunteer for active duty combat missions in Vietnam. He did indeed volunteer, as his defenders will trumpet, but we should immediately counter that he wasn’t anywhere near qualified for such service and had to know it ... almost like he was creating a track record to deflect this sort of criticism later on.
3. He suddenly stopped flying and refused a direct order to take a flight physical. This is where this conversation should start. Every excuse offered by or for Bush doesn’t hold up. Pilots do not get to just up and decide not to fly, not when the Air Force has invested a considerable amount of money in their training. If the Air Guard had decided he didn’t have to fly anymore, a decision that a minimum passing grade on the pilot’s exam and a desultory service record make understandable, why did it insist on him taking a physical to the point of ordering him to do so and suspending him from flight (a really extraordinary decision at the time). The substance-abuse angle is tantalizing, but it remains purely a matter of circumstantial evidence at this point and should not be asserted as if it were fact.
4. The suspension from flying. Did not happen for any innocuous reason based on the available evidence. The Air Guard bent over backwards to keep pilots in the air at the time. Why was there no Flight Inquiry Board? This is undeniably the worst part of it for Bush, and as such should be harped on mercilessly.
5. The missed drills in both Alabama and Houston. The issue has been, and will be muddied, by the claims made on Bush’s behalf by former Blount campaign workers (never named, we noted) and the attempts to suggest Gen. Turnipseed is forgetful, plus the paperwork that is still in dispute. The point to make here is that no one whose recollections could settle the matter, i.e. former AL Air Guardsmen, can remember Bush at drills. Campaign workers’ statements that he said he had to get to drills are worth very little ... would your boss accept your friends’ saying that they remembered you saying you had to get to work as evidence that you did indeed show up?
6. The time after, and the early discharge. Paperwork, on the face of it, suggests he was trying to make up his lost time, but there is still dispute as to authenticity of torn document. Even if genuine, does not reflect the most conscientious, dutiful fulfillment of Guard duties one would expect of someone with no qualms about touting his military experience and appealing to that type of vote as a presidential candidate. Also worth noting that DoD no longer allows one to check the meaning of Program Separation Codes on the web and his final discharge from inactive status was undeniably made eight months later than it should have originally occurred. Obviously he was being punished for something.
posted by Sully 2/04/2004 01:26:00 AM
MORE CUES FROM LITTLE GREEN GOOFBALLS:
Harry over at SlyBlog alluded to Reynolds’ criticism of Sullivan’s post in his own response, but noted an aspect that the law professor naturally ignores:
Islam, the religion of millions of people across the Mideast, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, includes hundreds of sects and interpretations. It’s as diverse as the multitudinous denominations of Christianity and its adherents, like those of Christianity and Judaism, span the spectrum from violent radicals to peaceful academics. It is not a cult and it is not, as a general rule, obsessed with death. The Hajj stampede had nothing to do with martyrdom or even with death. The stoning of the devil is a ritual part of the pilgrimage to Mecca. I suspect Sullivan knows this — but why let facts get in the way of a slur.
If Sullivan was a lone wolf howling at the moon, I suppose I’d leave him be. But Sullivan, who remains ostensibly a reasonable pundit (enough so to review a book on Islam in the NYT Book Review), is the tip of sharp iceberg. Under the surface, the radical conservative fringe is cultivating a malevolent hatred of Islam. It’s a hate so common and so violent that the pundit class would be beside themselves if the same thing were commonly known to be said about Judaism or Christianity.
Rabid anti-Islam prejudice is not rare. It colors the political discourse from left to right and increasingly blackens the reasoning of the neocon crowd. It means that people like Glenn Reynolds (who, to his credit, calls Sullivan on this post) blogroll moronic racists. It leads otherwise sensible people to relentlessly demonize Islam at the expense of ignoring other dangerous threats.
It’s not enough for anyone to simply smile and call Andrew Sullivan a little off-base. His stupid arguments are offensive. Not only that, they generalize a complicated and important debate about how to address corruption, violence and terrorism in the Mideast.
He also added this note later:
Perhaps the most damning aspect of Sullivan’s post? That he apples the same label, “cult of death,” to Islam that has been bigotedly used on homosexuals.
(Link in original)
Proof, perhaps, of projection.
What Sullivan would be on firmer ground criticizing in the Saudi Hajj Minister’s comments is not so much a cult of death but a fatalism in some strains of Islam that should not be allowed by anyone to be an excuse for poor, almost reckless, planning. Yes, some of these more orthodox Muslims eschew insurance of any kind as contrary to God’s will. That’s fine if they want to assume the risk themselves. We don’t think that under any religion’s value system it gives them the right to pass that risk on to others.
posted by Sully 2/04/2004 12:11:00 AM
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
My death-match with Stanley Kurtz on the question of equal marriage rights in Scandinavia is beginning to remind me of Frodo and Gollum battling on the edge of Mordor with a marriage ring in their hands.
Oh, please. Most of just see a self-important homophobe and a self-important homosexual aruging on their respective online fora over an issue that won’t have any real importance for the majority, or even a significant minority other than gays and social conservatives, of voters this election year.
posted by Sully 2/03/2004 02:54:00 PM
ONLY UNTIL SOMEONE LOSES AN EYE:
Further in that department, Sullivan, who a few years ago was holding up the idea of unconcealed political bias in news outlets, as tends to be the case in Britain and Europe, as superior to the facade of impartiality American news organizations pretend to, now fears that similarly-entrenched positions in American political discourse have made us “cynical and polarized” and may reach the point where “political discourse simply cannot operate civilly”?
Gee, when the left starts looking out for its own interests the way the right does, it’s not so much fun anymore, is it?
posted by Sully 2/03/2004 02:49:00 PM
THE SOUND OF THE RAT DOING THE CRAWL:
Let us see if we get this straight: Sullivan, who just last week took Josh Marshall out to the woodshed for insufficient attention to 9/11 in a New Yorker piece about American foreign policy over the last several years, now fears the Republicans are overemphasizing it in this year’s campaign?
This is the sort of thing that made us start this blog in the first place (and reassures us that Sullivan has not totally regained his senses, as he appeared to be on the verge of doing in the last few weeks).
Will the real Blog Queen please stand up? Is there one?
posted by Sully 2/03/2004 02:46:00 PM
ADMITTING MORE THAN HE MIGHT THINK:
I must say I’ve had my own Brit-glib moments in journalism, when I’ve too easily disparaged worthy, accurate but “boring” reporting or commentary.
Hmm ... when have these happened, Andrew? Perhaps Ruth Shalit might be able to enlighten us further about this ... would you want her to, though?
All kidding aside, this just reminds us of a larger point we made when the questions were first raised about Gilligan’s story: He was “bored by standard BBC reporting” ... in other words, the sort of tame, follow-the-pack stuff that one has every right to expect of a government-sponsored broadcasting-entity.
That sort of damn-the-torpedoes reportage is what made Gilligan’s name in the first place ... before he came to the BBC. It’s the sort of thing that sells papers and ad time, the sort of thing you’d see more of if the BBC were privatized. Is that what Sullivan really wants?
posted by Sully 2/03/2004 02:42:00 PM
Monday, February 02, 2004
BUT MAYBE HE IS ON TO SOMETHING AFTER ALL:
Vaara suggests Sullivan check out Joe Donatelli on the undeniable gayness of being a Republican.
posted by Sully 2/02/2004 12:16:00 PM
THE THINGS YOU SEE IF YOU SCROLL DOWN:
Another step down for the Blog Queen.
Sometime over the past weekend, we can’t remember exactly when and it’s really not all that important, we chanced to go down to the bottom of the page, down where he keeps the link to his archives, looking for some old post or other from earlier in the week.
We found something Sullivan hasn’t told you about yet: the newest feature of his blog.
Go do it yourself, you’ll see. We’ll wait.
Yup, Sullivan now has publicly viewable hit stats! Two, in fact: Sitemeter, just like us, and Extreme Tracking.
Thanks to the former, it is now possible to see pretty convincing evidence that he gets only slightly more average daily visits than Atrios does, and way less than Reynolds (Unique visitors is not, we think, the best metric for blog traffic since in our experience many people check back more than once a day at least.
Oh, and we can also find out where most of his biggest known referrals come from ... Drudge in a landslide, with Reynolds, Horowitz and the Wall Street Journal editorial page coming in next. Hmm ... kind of contrasts with the idea that he’s got such a sophisticated and politically diverse reader base, doesn’t it?
Two questions naturally come into play here.
First, what made him do this? Despite his largely successful efforts to use his previous career as a way of leveraging himself into a largely-undeserved role as the public face of political blogging (much like he did with the gay community), Sullivan has famously resisted many of the features that make blogging the truly peer-to-peer popular medium that he claims it to be, features found on blogs across the political spectrum — comments sections most notably, but also a blogroll (Oh, but he’s never forgotten the tip jar!).
Until recently, he would brag about his traffic but never open his books as, again, so many other bloggers (including us) do. Someone at Fantascope must have finally, after the latest pledge drive, taken him aside and said he simply has to get with the program if he wants to be taken seriously when he brags about how sold-out he is.
Second, this also leads to speculation that his traffic, as his Alexa numbers have begun to suggest, is declining after a spike (hardly unique to him, we got it too) upwards last spring during the war (We hate to brag, but we can’t help but notice a contrast).
Perhaps, he and Fantascope believe, more accurate numbers will keep some key backers or advertisers on board (It is very interesting, in this light, that he has been utterly silent about the results of his last pledge drive). But if they don’t — if he keeps hemorraghing readers as more and more people see through him — he will not be able to keep up his many pretenses any longer and will suffer for it at the hands of ... the market.
It’s far too soon to tell, as both counters were installed only last month. But now he will not be able to lie or fudge anymore.
posted by Sully 2/02/2004 12:11:00 PM
THE POOL IS OPEN!:
Jo Fish is so sick of Sully’s Kerry-bashing that he makes a few more bets with himself.
If either Kerry or Clark become the nominee, Sullivan will be deeper in hackery than at any point in his life spinning everything from the success at finding WMD-PRA to the massive fiscal restraint shown by the 1600 Crew. He’ll certainly be spinning and shilling Fearless Leaders “dangerous service” keeeping the VC out of Alabama mail rooms and off of Ellington AFB in Houston. Bet on that. If Andrew mentions Jane Fonda and John Kerry as co-protestors of the Vietnam War in the same post, I’ll kick in another 50 Bucks to Amnesty International, because I’m betting he'll do it. It will be part of the RoveCo spin (I hear it may actually be already).
Actually, we seem to recall that he already tried to spin Bush’s Air Guard non-service a bit, back in May after the carrier landing when it popped up for a while as an issue in the left blogosphere, selectively quoting a New York Times story to give the impression it was a non-issue (Bob Somerby had that story in Washington at the time, and is on the case still).
posted by Sully 2/02/2004 11:21:00 AM
DOES HE HAVE TO DRAW YOU A PICTURE?:
In addition to the update noted previously, Ailes notes Bush has come even closer to endorsing the FMA.
posted by Sully 2/02/2004 11:08:00 AM