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

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


Saturday, March 20, 2004


On the similarities between the King of All Media and the Blog Queen:

I’ll buy him a beer (or send him the money for one) on the day after he publishes his first endorsemnt of Kerry. But honestly, I think my money is safe ... Andrew tends to be all blow and no show about 90 percent of the time and just plain full of crap the other 10 percent. So he’ll suck up his dislike of Fundies over assurances from the 1600 Crew that they “went too far,” become selectively amnesiac about things like squandering our future wealth and write a glowing review of our “bold, fabulous, wartime leader” in the Sunday Times which he’ll justify with his rationaliztions that Kerry “just doesn’t have what it takes” to be strong on national defense. Ignore that Silver Star, Bronze Star and the Purple Hearts Andrew, they mean nothing at all. Just trophies of a misspent youth.

Actually, Jo, you’d probably be better off winning his heart buying him some T.

posted by Sully 3/20/2004 02:07:00 PM

Friday, March 19, 2004


A considerable number of Americans — including many in the pro-war camp — believe this administration has not been forthright enough about the reasons for the intelligence failure.

This is praising with faint damnation.

There was no intelligence failure, unless you count the failure of the intel people to find a way to get past the neocons and tell Bush what they didn’t want him to hear. The intelligence people did their jobs. It was the political people who strongarmed them into giving the most extreme case against Saddam possible, relying on really pessimistic interpretations of worst-case scenarios, starting from the assumption that since Saddam was evil he had to be doing evil things.

To call this an “intelligence failure” is not only disingenuous, administration-ass-kissing propaganda, it’s an insult to our intelligence community. They did not fail. It was those above them who would have this war come hell or high water, and saw no better chance to do it than with the public still scared and angry over 9/11, who deserve to be held accountable.


He first denied there was a problem, then he dismissed the problem, then he justified his actions regardless, without taking full responsibility for the errors.

And what else would you expect from a man who has always been protected by his own parents, in particular that drunken old gnat that wombed him, from having to suffer in any substantial way the consequences of his own many mistakes? Do you still want to insist that the Guard or Harken is irrelevant? Do you understand now what we have been trying to tell you for the past few years? That we hate him not because he is a Republican and he is president (although that didn’t help) but because those who adore him (you too, Sullivan) has always acted as if he were the very acme of character simply by virtue of not being Bill Clinton.

You didn’t have to like Clinton. Fine ... people can understand that. But for God’s sake don’t go around pretending that a man who has major character issues himself is his polar opposite just because he happened to be president when we got attacked.

And who, by the way, enabled him in so much of that? There’s a reason he’s a dry drunk, Andrew!

posted by Sully 3/19/2004 12:30:00 AM

Thursday, March 18, 2004

ECON 102:

Max has a little more on why all these canards about how good the economy really is are, well, canards.

posted by Sully 3/18/2004 10:11:00 PM


Via Roger Ailes, The Guardian repays Sully’s compliment:

Maybe they think it’s payback time. In 2001, many American conservatives were appalled by the reaction in some European quarters to 9/11, a reaction crudely summarised as “America had it coming.” They insisted it was grossly insensitive to attack the United States and its foreign policy while Ground Zero still smouldered. They were right and I took their side, urging people at least to pause a while before adding greater hurt to an already traumatised nation.

But look what’s happening now. A matter of days after the event branded Europe’s 9/11, and American conservatives — including some of the very people who were so outraged by the criticisms hurled at the US in September 2001 — have started whacking not just Spanish policy, but the Spanish people.

Witness David Brooks in yesterday’s New York Times, outraged that the Madrid bombings prompted Spanish voters to “throw out the old government and replace it with one whose policies are more to al-Qaida’s liking. What is the Spanish word for appeasement?” Rightwing blog artist Andrew Sullivan also raided the 1930s lexicon for the same, exhausted word: “It seems clear to me that the trend in Europe is now either appeasement of terror or active alliance with it. It is hard to view the results in Spain as anything but a choice between Bush and al-Qaida. Al-Qaida won ...”


Perhaps this is how the Bushites hope to avenge what they saw as European insensitivity two and half years ago, by defaming the Spanish even as Madrid still weeps. But this assault should not go unanswered if only because, if allowed to settle in the public mind, it will widen yet further the already yawning transatlantic gulf of misunderstanding.

Put aside the imprecision (and worse) that comes with the abuse of the word “appeasement”: the menace of al-Qaida is real and serious enough without making hyperbolic comparisons to the Third Reich. Focus instead on the two grave errors that underlie this latest argument from the right. One is a misunderstanding of democracy, the other is a failure to make crucial distinctions.

The first mistake is the more surprising, for no word is invoked more often in support of the “war on terror” than democracy. Yet these insults hurled at the Spanish show a sneaking contempt for the idea. For surely the Spanish did nothing more on Sunday than exercise their democratic right to change governments. They elected the Socialist party; to suggest they voted for al-Qaida is a slur not only on the Spanish nation but on the democratic process itself, implying that when terrorists strike political choice must end.


The Spanish electorate were not voting for a cave-in to al-Qaida. On the contrary, many of those who opposed the war in Iraq did so precisely because they feared it would distract from the more urgent war against Islamist fanaticism. (Witness the US military resources pulled off the hunt for Bin Laden in Afghanistan and diverted to Baghdad.) Nor was it appeasement to suggest that the US-led invasion of an oil-rich, Muslim country would make al-Qaida’s recruitment mission that much easier.

posted by Sully 3/18/2004 10:01:00 PM



In what has to be one of the most mawkish displays of self-pity and bi-polarism yet, the Duchess is destroyed, yes destroyed mind you that Preznit Lies to All lied to him. He's gonna need big-time therapy. Maybe Charles Krauthammer has a spot open on his couch for him.

So which war is it going to be Andrew, the war on the noun, or the war on your soul? Pick Quick, the marginalization will be televised...and don't bet it won't continue to happen if the 1600 Crew is around to lead that revolution. Think Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi. The Christo-Fascists don't like you (and they really don't) they lock your ass up. Simple, no questions and no recourse.

Great take on the catchphrase.

Logan Circle Guy is a little more charitable, and World O’ Crap has one word.

posted by Sully 3/18/2004 09:53:00 PM


Not only have leftists been using that bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail for some time now, Zapatero hasn’t even withdrawn his troops from Iraq, and in fact (as Hesiod reminds us) none other than John Kerry has urged Zapatero to not be so hasty. (Zapatero politely declined, reminding people that was part of his platform long before last week).

This is just so petty and adolescent. Sullivan has returned to his 16-year-old muscle-shirt T-pumped self that was so odiously on display right after 9/11 (and when we say, right after, we mean for well over a year).

posted by Sully 3/18/2004 05:07:00 PM


Here’s what Abu Hafs al-masrii also said that Sullivan doesn’t want to tell you about:

The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry. as it was not possible to find a leader “more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom.”

In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

“Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization.

“Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected.”

Which side are you on, Sully? ... which side are you on?

posted by Sully 3/18/2004 04:53:00 PM

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Logan Circle Guy’s got a good take on Sully’s fisking of the Guardian:

Andrew probably meant nihilism as “Rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief” (one of the dictionary definitions) but his piece makes me think of another definition, though less common, of the word: “A delusion, experienced in some mental disorders, that the world or one’s mind, body, or self does not exist.”

Andrew clearly is confident about his own existence but it's hard to believe he thinks anyone else is real, least of all his readers, for he uses one of his favorite bizarre rhetorical techniques: he quotes something, then criticizes it for saying things that are clearly absent in the original text. As I read it I thought perhaps Andrew suffers from some kind of counter-nihilism in which the outside world as such doesn’t exist; only Andrew’s fantasies about it are real.


What’s surprising is how clumsy all this is, coming from a writer of Andrew’s talents. If he were Ann Coulter (instead of her gay male doppelganger) he’d just not quote what he’s criticizing, and depend on his readers not actually reading it and realizing that he’s not responding to what someone actually said, but rather what he likes to imagine others think. Andrew goes and actually includes it in his text, making it painfully easy to see that he's just making things up.

The real issue here: the Guardian is pointing out that Bush squandered the international sympathy that was provoked by 9/11, leaving us at odds with allies and Europe divided. The Guardian’s closing point: the war on terror should be taken out of American hands. And you don’t criticize Bush on foreign policy without provoking a response from Andrew Sullivan. A pity said responses aren’t a bit more coherent.

There is something interesting going here, from a psychoanalytic standpoint at least ... conservatives seem to have this Lacanian Other thing going with liberal discourse, whereby one fragment thereof can stand in for the whole, including some half-remembered other fragment that to any rational mind would have absolutely no relationship to the text that ostensibly prompted the response. Thus (to give a non-Sully example), Coulter can see no problem with imputing to the New York Times a hatred of Southerners sufficient to keep the story of Dale Earnhardt’s death off the front page, even though it actually was on the front page, because something somewhere else has given her reason to believe that, and she wouldn’t do something like flip the folded paper over because she knew what she wouldn’t find.

We’ve had some ideas about this that might make a good longer post, but the time is not now.

posted by Sully 3/17/2004 05:57:00 PM


Al Qaeda and its multiple off-shoots have learned a couple of things recently. The first is that the U.S. will not cower before a terror attack. Bin Laden misjudged that one on 9/11, foolishly believing that he could move public policy in his direction by shell-shocking the American public. He was hoping for classic isolationism in response to the casualties of that awful day.

First, one also thinks they have been trying to teach us the same lesson, that they will not cower either. They seem not to have gotten the memo that told them they were supposed to be losing.

Second, we seem to remember (and then Google) what Osama actually said in his first speech after 9/11. It had nothing to do with encouraging American isolationism:

These events have divided the whole world into two sides. The side of believers and the side of infidels, may God keep you away from them. Every Muslim has to rush to make his religion victorious. The winds of faith have come. The winds of change have come to eradicate oppression from the island of Muhammad, peace be upon him.

To America, I say only a few words to it and its people. I swear by God, who has elevated the skies without pillars, neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine, and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad, peace be upon him.

This clearly sounds like a line being drawn in the sand and a call to prepare and choose sides in a long and bloody war to end all wars. It is pro-isolationist only if you are the sort of person who divides all foreign countries the U.S. deals with into two types: Israel, and everyone else.

We also seem to remember that at that time, al-Qaa‘idah’s actions suggested the intent was to draw the U.S. into a long and bloody quagmire in Asia: on Sept. 9, 2001, as you may remember, the head of the Northern Alliance, the only serious opposition to the Taliban in Afghanistan, was killed, and immediately thereafter the Taliban began an offensive against them. Clearly the idea was to eliminate the only serious ally the U.S. could have in fighting al-Qaa‘idah on its home turf.

They miscalculated, as it turned out, the fighting strength of their black-turbaned friends, and al-Qaa‘idah was scattered to the winds without a Plan B. Fortunately, our acting President is nothing if not sporting, and he gave bin Laden what he wanted ... a significant portion of the U.S. military tied down occupying and rebuilding an Asian country. Two, in fact.


Most pertinent in this is the amazing way that the higher form of knowledge and noospheric divination available only to highly advanced Straussians allows them to know just what Osama bin Laden is thinking at this particular moment, and as always it’s exactly what would justify the most radical neocon agenda.

But their sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped them find Osama, or conjured up any Iraqi WMDs.

And their response to being called on that has been just like Darth Vader’s was (Ask Valerie Plame). Only without Governor Tarkin to restrain him.


Atrios has plenty on Myers’ record of trustworthiness and reliability as anything but an anti-Clinton hack.

Meanwhile, here’s The Guardian on how Bush dropped this particular ball.

We also seem to remember a great Washington Post piece by Barton Gellman which went into greater detail about this barely a few months after 9/11 yet passed without notice at the time. We’ve linked to it ever since and we invite you to review it now. Because you don’t know just how much the Bushies backed off bin Laden until you do.

[A] careful review of the Bush administration’s early record on terrorism finds more continuity than change from the Clinton years, measured in actions taken and decisions made. Where the new team shifted direction, it did not always choose a more aggressive path

The administration did not resume its predecessor's covert deployment of cruise missile submarines and gunships, on six-hour alert near Afghanistan’s borders. The standby force gave Clinton the option, never used, of an immediate strike against targets in al Qaeda’s top leadership. The Bush administration put no such capability in place before Sept. 11.

At least twice, Bush conveyed the message to the Taliban that the United States would hold the regime responsible for an al Qaeda attack. But after concluding that bin Laden’s group had carried out the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole — a conclusion stated without hedge in a Feb. 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney — the new administration did not choose to order armed forces into action.

A weekly meeting on al-Qaa‘idah held in the last years of the Clinton administration’s NSC was canceled as soon as Bush came in.

Their reason for all this was a semi-plausible one: that they felt Clinton had focused too much on Osama himself and not his network. But it makes little sense to stop pursuing the former strategy while you work out one for the latter, because taking out Osama would have only helped the cause of making al-Qaa‘idah muq‘id.

If you want to deride the opposing candidate’s counterterror strategy as “law enforcement,” it would help if you had at least kept cops on the beat yourself that were there when you took over the precinct.

Someday, this is going to look more and more like McClellan’s infamous hand-sitting after Antietam, or like Marshall’s leaning on Chiang not to pursue the Communists into Manchuria, or the U.S. military’s failure to take advantage of the VC/NVA’s near-depletion of forces after Tet ... all instances of letting an enemy regroup and win later when they could have been finished off right then and there.

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias says much the same thing at TAPped.

posted by Sully 3/17/2004 02:14:00 PM


Y’know, maybe we all should be gentler on Sully when he chides the Spanish for appeasement.

After all, he himself is fresh off a rude awakening in the results of that ...

All the same, now that even the American media is reporting that it was not so much the bombing as the clumsy way Aznar tried to spin it politically even as the dead were still dying, it’s time to stop insulting the Spanish people and retire that “appeaser” meme.

posted by Sully 3/17/2004 01:08:00 PM


Jo Fish on Sullivan’s renewed embrace of the Party Line:

Substitute “communism” for “Islamist terror” and “The Soviets” for Al-Qaeda and “Vietnam/SouthEast Asia” for Iraq, and be afraid, be very afraid. Sullivan is parroting the Neocon Party Line, right down to the semi-colons and trying to get everyone to buy it ... it’s the argument for the new millenium to justify the second Gulf of Tonkin Resolution ... how long will it take before Andrew sees the writing on the wall he helped put there?

Hey, give ’em a break, Jo ... he can’t even read the writing on a quilt, for Pete’s sakes.

And earlier he had said:

John Kerry, much to Sullivan’s dismay, is right, the fight against Terrorism is a Law Enforcement operation. The military do retribution well, but generally suck at tracking down bad-guys, it’s not what they are trained to to. Unfortunately, 1600 Crew kool-aid causes one to believe otherwise, just as it causes Andrew to believe his hero wants freedom, liberty and justice for gay Americans. Poor fool.

And he has the nerve to call Jayson Blair “astonishingly shameless”? Mirror, meet Andrew. Andrew, meet Reality.

posted by Sully 3/17/2004 01:10:00 AM


With all due respect to Professor Cole (whose ire Sullivan seems to have earned more for his critique of the Bush Administration’s manipulation of information then for the last sentence), we have argued countless times that it is not Hitler but Stalin in whom you’ll find the Primal Neocon.

posted by Sully 3/17/2004 12:54:00 AM


Speaking of Sawicky, he sets Sullivan and Drezner straight on productivity growth as the reason for slow job growth:

Comes the revelation from Business Week, picked up by Drezner and channeled by Sully, that the reason job growth is slow is high productivity growth. These guys really should steer clear of economics. We suggest the topic of anti-semitism in modern films by aging Australian action heroes.

Their assertion has the same explanatory power as Calvin Coolidge’s “When a great many people are unable to find work, unemployment results.” Productivity is output divided by labor input. To say one increased more than the other says nothing. Why did one increase more than the other? Because employers got more output from fewer workers? More nothing.

The right-wing implication is that to criticize unemployment is to criticize technological progress. No, to criticize unemployment is to criticize the Ruling Regime. You don’t expect the private sector to fix unemployment. It’s a Federal government responsibility.

posted by Sully 3/17/2004 12:45:00 AM

Monday, March 15, 2004


It’s hardly surprising that Sullivan joins the chorus of warbloggers shaking their finger at the Spaniards for daring to act independently of their wishes.

Sullivan at least has the sense to see that the PP’s initial rush to attribute the blast (as indeed we ourselves did until its scale became clear) to ETA and tardiness in making it known to the public that it was more likely what we are increasingly coming to refer to as the al-qawaa‘id (the plural of qaa‘idah ... we’re just so clever, aren’t we?): one of the many Islamic fundamentalist cells connected to bin Laden’s group.

But by depicting the election as if the only contenders were a) the Spanish governing party, a center-right group with unsavory links to Franco, and b) al-Qaa‘idah, Sullivan and the other chickenhawks discard completely the feelings of the Spanish people, 90 percent of whom opposed the war. Think the fact that their government with too much nostalgia for a past dictatorship got them into this war and made them targets in a way they had never been before might have had something to do with this? (Atrios puts it succinctly) The tea leaves were out for this last Friday.

There are two lessons from this that can and should be drawn:

First, the value of better diplomacy. For the Bushies, it was enough that a government supported the war. The administration never considered what might happen if said government (as Spain did) defied its own people (and why should it? Like they actually had to win an election or something stupid like that?) and then something like this happened. By having utterly disregarded the views of the people of the nations they were courting, by taking all the people marching against it worldwide as a sign they were doing the right thing, by catering to someone’s delusions of possibly being Phillip II, the hawks set themselves up for the loss of an allied government. If any of them, under those cirucmstances, actually expected the Spanish public to retain the PP, they were insane.

Which brings us to a second point: Had we been more careful in building our coalition, gaining more allies, losing Spain over something like this might not have been such a blow. But now it is. Deal with it ... certainly our own soldiers will be.

And secondly, and most importantly, the flypaper strategy does not work. Make people count corpses of their own to impress upon them the severity of the conflict with a third party you are leaning on them to take seriously, and — surprise! — they’ll get angry at you! (Then again, what would you expect from people who actually believe the poor must be taxed more heavily to better impress upon them the need to make government more efficient and cost-effective?)


Josh Marshall:

I notice that on his site yesterday evening Andrew Sullivan portrays the Spanish election results as a straight-up win for bin Laden. He also argues that you cannot on the one hand say that this is al Qaida payback against Spain for supporting the Iraq war and then also argue that the Iraq war itself was irrelevant to the war on terror. If it’s irrelevant to the war on terror (i.e., the war against al qaida), Andrew argues, why are the terrorists retaliating?

There is a certain logic to this argument. But I think it’s a superficial one — indeed an incorrect one.

Certainly, I think we have to entertain the possibility that — to the extent that nations make collective judgments — the Spanish see the US as caught in a fight with militant Islam and they just want to get out of the way.

But on the whole question of the relationship between terrorism and the Iraq war there’s a very different way to see this from the one Sullivan is proposing.

Just because you’ve inflamed or emboldened your enemies doesn’t mean you’ve used the most effective means of attacking them. Indeed, quite the opposite can be true.

For instance, consider this thought experiment. What if the US, Britain and Spain had attacked and occupied Egypt or Jordan? Do you suppose that Islamic radicals wouldn’t strike at the sponsors of that war much as they seem to have last week?

I suspect there’d be little if any difference.

The point I think is clear. Contrary to what Andrew says, in this case, you can have it both ways. This may be retaliation for Spanish support of the Iraq war without that meaning that hitting Iraq had anything to do with fighting terror in the way Andrew suggests.

Via Hesiod we are also led to Jim Henley, who shows why he still deserves to be on our blogroll and yours with some excellent reporting on how Aznar’s support for the war may not have transferred to the rest of the PP, and why the Spanish right may not be all that pro-American either.

Steve Mussina points out how Aznar’s government ignored warnings from its own intelligence service, and appropriately observes:

Same pattern as in this country: Act macho by sending troops to Iraq, act macho by getting into fights with other countries that threaten cooperation on anti-terrorism intelligence, shortchange the cops because cops arresting terrorists doersn’t let you act as macho as kicking ass in a war. Aznar? Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Atrios shows how the PP’s early attempts to spin the media were derided when first reported until they almost backfired.

Finally, Max Sawicky acidly adds:

Military strength notwithstanding, [the administration] is losing its favorite war out of political ineptitude. Why? Because it is trying to appease Americans who still haven’t figured out how the U.S. lost the war in Viet Nam.


Logan Circle Guy:

But, if you’re trying to justify the actions of administration that lied to the public when making the case for the war, it is helpful to throw a separate and defensible military action into the mix.

As for the Spanish bombings being “proof” of all this, it’s anyone’s guess what Andrew’s smoking. Yes, when terrorists who are hostile to the US and Europe set off a bombs in a European capital, it just proves that the war on Iraq made sense as part of an anti-terrorist campaign. Because otherwise they would never have bombed the Madrid subway!

George Cerny:

Sullivan then goes a little mad; he first attempts to explain how the attack last week justifies the war in Iraq that began a year ago. A few lines later, he explains that al-Qaeda’s hatred of Spain has its genesis in the expulsion of the Moors in the 15th century. In between, he notes under his breath that the Spanish government’s conduct in the last few days hasn't exactly inspired confidence in its ability to protect its people. But I’ll leave a detailed analysis of Sullivan’s breakdown to a qualified professional. I’m more concerned with the rather casual appreciation of the value of democracy these bloggers are showing.

Sullivan stresses that the issue in the war with al Qaeda is the struggle of freedom against tyranny. Surely, the right of a people to choose their government is one of the most important freedoms that must be defended. While we may disagree with the outcome of an election, democracy isn’t about outcomes, it is about a process. The act of engaging in that process, as more Spanish voters than expected did this weekend, is a part of the struggle against tyranny, not a surrender to “Islamo-fascism.”

It is striking that few if any of the right-wing bloggers so upset about Spain’s election even mention the other European election yesterday, when more than 70 percent of Russian voters re-elected Vladimir Putin. Russia’s ongoing fraud of a democracy should be far more troubling to lovers of liberty than the results from a single election in a vibrant democratic state.

posted by Sully 3/15/2004 01:07:00 AM

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The fisking of Norah Vincent

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Excerpts from Lee Siegel's 2001 Harper's piece

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Who Was That Masked Man?

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Journalists behaving badly, updated.

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Eve Tushnet's classic zinger

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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


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