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

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


Saturday, April 10, 2004


P O'Neill points out that Sullivan's dubious history of late (see Friday entries) has a religious problem as well:

About this day last week we noted Christopher Hitchens making an unfortunate reference to Heart of Darkness in connection with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Now comes a set of even more unfortunate references from Andrew Sullivan, who doesn't seem to see the problem of viewing the crisis through the prism of Holy Week. The post is titled "The Passion of Iraq" which just invites some unfortunate analogies (Bremer = Pontius Pilate?). He then asks "Did we expect the place to become Toledo overnight?" by which we assume he means Toledo, Ohio (coming soon: the Baghdad Mudhens baseball team joins the AAA league) but instead sounds like a reference to Toledo, Spain, which gets us into some very tricky history as far as the Muslim world is concerned:

Castile and Leon captured the Muslim kingdom of Toledo in 1085, annexed its lands, and pushed the frontier of Christian Spain south beyond the Tagus River. The Muslim lands annexed by Castile and Leon became known as New Castile. The capture of Toledo—the ancient capital of Visigothic Spain—marked the first time a major city in Muslim Spain had fallen to Christian forces, and it served to sharpen the religious aspect of the Christian reconquest. In subsequent centuries this dimension of the conflict would grow stronger.

And just to eliminate any doubt about the Passion-Resurrection imagery being applied to Iraq:

It may be dark this Friday, but Christians are told that a new day will dawn. Not in three days. But in time. If we keep our nerve.

Just the pep talk that the ayatollahs and clerics need to hear!

posted by Sully 4/10/2004 12:34:00 PM


George Cerny also speaks up about Sullivan's increasing unwillingness to say the Boy Emperor not only has no clothes now but never did:

Pay attention to what Sullivan does here. He notes that the policy he is proposing, and has proposed since 9/11, may eliminate any possibility of a liberal and humane government emerging in Iraq. He then drops the topic. He doen't offer any hint of how we can avoid dire outcome. Still less does he address the important question of what we'll do if it comes to pass that democracy in Iraq is impossible -- what exit strategy then?

Instead, Sullivan attacks the anti-war left for racism because they doubted -- for reasons that had nothing to do with race or culture-- that the war would bring a liberal and humane government to the people of Iraq. The anti-war left is to be blamed, in other words, for anticipating the exact scenario that Sullivan now contemplates.


Perhaps Iraq -- and some better future for its people -- can still be salvaged. I hope so. I would like nothing better than to admit that I have been wrong, and owe Sullivan and others my apologies.

What do you suppose it would take to get Sullivan to admit that he has been wrong? Not just on Iraq, but on anything of significance -- what would it take?

Well, since he buried his admission that he was wrong about the possible health consequences of barebacking on a back page of The Advocate that has never showed up in any online searches we've done, this issue gets complex.

We suggest it would be something like Bush announcing his support for a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to one man and one woman ...

Oh, wait ...

posted by Sully 4/10/2004 12:29:00 PM


John, still Logan Circle Guy until he finds some location in Houston he can use as a moniker, on Sullivan's determination to give the administration the benefit of every doubt:

Andrew Sullivan writes today, in reference to the horrifying wave of violence in Iraq, "Did we expect the place to become Toledo overnight?"

Well, many of us didn't, but if pre-war planning and public statements are any indication, George W. Bush certainly did. There were many warnings about the difficulties that would be faced in post-war Iraq, and why we ought to think about this before starting the war, but the administration ignored these, and now the bill (in lives, in stability, in money) is coming due.

Andrew's point seems to be that the events of the last few days should not be surprising or, from a policy perspective, disturbing. Had the President been honest about the realities we'd face in post-war Iraq, his point would be a good one, but that's not how it all happened. So we're now paying the price for another of the President's deceptions. And Sullivan seems to be happy to provide the whitewash. Rock on, Leni Sullivanstahl.

posted by Sully 4/10/2004 12:04:00 PM


Jo Fish on Sullivan yesterday:

I guess that no one planned, anticipated, premeditated or was responsible (well, that's the 1600 Crew position) for the Mess in Mesopotamia. One day Andy just woke up, and boom, there was a war on.

and earlier, when Sully asked "Where is [Bush]?":

Alex, for 1000 points, that would be "On Vacation and or AWOL" from his job. How much of a leap is it to see past behaviour is an indicator of future actions when your hero is a drunken, fratboy coward. Andy: Queen of Denial?

posted by Sully 4/10/2004 12:01:00 PM

Friday, April 09, 2004


We’re a bit later with this than we would have liked, but in the current Economist (well, last week’s for those of you who aren’t lowly US mail subscribers) there’s an article about the British Conservative Party’s outreach efforts to gays there with a conclusion that describes Smalltown Boy so well:

Yet some argue that Conservatives and gays fit naturally together. Ivan Massow, a businessman who left the party when he became fed-up with its anti-gay bias, says the Tories, like the royal household, have “high camp” appeal that could make them attractive to gay voters. And though Mr Howard is unlikely to become a pink pin-up anytime soon, many gay men admit there’s something rather marvellous about Maggie.

A homosexual following, as Mr Massow points out, could do the Tories a lot of good. Marketing men have labelled gays “early adopters”—people who latch on to fashions first, followed by the duller masses. If gays took to the Tories, they might even make them hip.

We think we said something along those lines ages ago.

Really, if back in the 1970s Monty Python or someone like them had decided to create a character who would be the archetypal gay Tory, and had then brought out a Catholic from a working-class background who moves to the U.S., becomes HIV-positive and embraces conservative Republicanism, speaks as if the Pope of homosexuality about the importance of gay marriage while secretly posting ads soliciting unprotected bareback sex, all portrayed as riotously over-the-top, they would have been applauded by a duly-convulsed audience as a demented flowering of twisted comic genius.

Ooops, that link seems not to be working anymore. Here’s the Google cache.

posted by Sully 4/09/2004 01:18:00 AM


We used to win [wars] before we engaged in elaborate blame-games as to who was asleep at the wheel when they broke out.

Oh, we did, did we?:



January 28 (Legislative Day, January 23), 1942.

(Emphasis ours) Doesn’t look like the war was over, was it?

As you can see, the Roberts report wasn’t even the first. It was the second of nine separate civilian and military inquiries into Pearl Harbor. Of those a full eight were started before the Japanese surrender.

We just picked Roberts because it's most analogous to the current commission.


This, of course, leaves aside completely his previous statements about this being a disturbingly-Orwellian sounding "war without end."

This creates two alternatives: Either now he believes the war will indeed have an end, and thus should explain the change in his thinking; or he is safe in the knowledge that this would, in a perfect world, never ever be investigated since the war would never be over.

posted by Sully 4/09/2004 01:05:00 AM


We think we recall that Muqtada himself referred to this as an intifada back when it all started.

And he was hardly the only Iraqi to do so.

It is an uprising against the occupation forces: many Iraqis are openly using the word 'intifada'.

And here’s one from a couple weeks ago.

Andrew, do you possibly think Google bought Pyra for a reason?

posted by Sully 4/09/2004 12:48:00 AM

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


I feel it’s necessary for me to write something about what’s going on in Iraq but this is also one of those moments when the reality is so opaque and events so fluid that it’s hard to know what to say. I’m not ducking this. It looks both terrible and also an opportunity. Better these tnesions flare now than later. But the flaring could also become a wildfire.

Besides the bet-hedging, don’t you just love the implicit assumption that the world will stop turning if Andrew Sullivan fails to offer his opinion on something? Of cours,e there are some people out there for whom this is true ...

This can be glossed as “I really don’t have anything to say but I still just love the sound of my own voice so I’m going to say something anyway.”

posted by Sully 4/07/2004 08:29:00 PM


The always-dependable George Cerny:

I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe that he was saying that this was the world’s “brightest opportunity” because of the outbreak of violence that was the subject of his post. I decided that it was just a statement of resolve or something that got away from him into hyperbole. And maybe that’s all that it was.

Unfortunately, as he notes, it wasn’t.

This is not like loading the bases on purpose when your pitcher’s gotten you in a tight spot. The idea there is that at least the play at the plate is a force out.

We can’t see what the upside here is. Baseball offers some great lessons in how to manage crisis, but it does not apply here.

UPDATE: Forceful words from Josh Marshall:

One might argue that that was a proper strategy. Sometimes a looming crisis needs to be brought to a head. But if that’s so, we seem to have done little to prepare for the reaction. Where’s the White House’s strategy? Where is it now, three days later?

All we seem to be hearing are hollow assertions of a vacant will.

From the White House’s advocates we hear logic puzzles about appeasement in which the fall-out from the president's screwups become the prime argument for continuing to support them.

At the critical moment the president has the toxic mix of the bulldog will of a Winston Churchill and the strategic insights and imagination of a Neville Chamberlain.

He has no plan. And will without policy just equals death.

posted by Sully 4/07/2004 06:31:00 PM


Jo goes off on Sully here:

If in almost three years we can’t come up with Osama bin Laden, and it took over six months to smoke out Saddam, do you really we are going to come up with a highly popular young man without either a true quisling or blind luck? I could be wrong your highness, but I doubt it. You’re talking about the Gang who can’t shoot straight; Fearless Leader and Co. Losers til the bitter end ... as events are proving daily. Is “T”-ball a different game in P-Town? I think it affects your brain ... “T”ruly.

And here this morning:

So to paraphrase the end of Sullivan’s “money quote” today: If you’re Andrew Sullivan, we’re pretty sure you’re nuts.

posted by Sully 4/07/2004 12:38:00 PM

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


George Cerny writes:

Do you suppose he’s proud of coining “sadr-masochists” or is he listening to Rush again?
So, the occupation, as Sullivan now admits, has been badly run, but changing the leadership that is responsible for our errors would be a victory for the terrorists.
I think that’s what he means to imply; is there another way to read it?

This is also good.

posted by Sully 4/06/2004 08:56:00 PM


It seems a New York Times op-ed columnist is having a few laughs at the expense of those grumpy ole right-wingers again. The writer figures we’re going to have to have politically separate airlines if we’re working on having politically segregated news media and living areas:

... Right Wing Express, which will have planes with no oxygen masks in case of emergencies because anybody who can’t handle a little asphyxiation doesn’t deserve to live.


Right Wing Express will have a different corporate culture. From the moment you walk into the airport (“Air traffic controllers? We don’t need no stinkin’ air traffic controllers!”) you will know you are in for a different experience. The special George Bush magnetometers will check for firearms, just in case someone isn’t packing, and will also peer into the soul of each passenger (Good Heart . . . Evildoer . . . Good Heart . . . Evildoer).

All passengers who pass through the membership committee will be awarded their own “Mission Accomplished!” flight suit. They will find the fares surprisingly affordable, especially if they fly up front, because first-class fares will have been drastically reduced in order to stimulate economic growth and the first-class meals will be especially lavish to give the hungry folks in coach an extra incentive to work hard and reform their lives.

All Right Wing Express flights will leave exactly on time, though for national security reasons the pilots will not reveal the identity of the destination cities. The Hummer-brand planes will have ample headroom for big-hair ladies, dozens of pews with easy access to the putting greens, and drop-down TV monitors, which will show libido-crushing abstinence education videos. There will also be ample bathroom facilities for heterosexuals of both genders.

Right Wing Express flights will not only land at airports, they will occupy airports. Passengers might sometimes find the flight attendants a tad abrasive (“You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall . . .”), but the cigarettes will be free and plentiful, and each passenger will be greeted with an appropriately conservative mantra, “Welcome to Right Wing Express, how can I help you help yourself?”

Why isn’t Sullivan, or the right as a whole, up in arms about yet another instance of the elves of West 43rd street poisoning the public debate like this? We haven’t the foggiest idea.

posted by Sully 4/06/2004 05:02:00 PM


A reader at Eschaton catches Sullivan having it both ways again.

posted by Sully 4/06/2004 04:54:00 PM


Matthew Yglesias carefully reads that policy paper from the Clinton Administration and finds that, once again, either or both Sully and his secret employer are being disingenuous:

Go check out the document yourself and you'll see that’s a very tendentious misreading.


This sort of thing is all over the place throughout the paper. Over and over again it says that in addition to pursuing some traditional priorities, we must look at new, post-national threats, including terrorism. It does mention Osama bin Laden by name, so I think we know what they were talking about.

posted by Sully 4/06/2004 04:52:00 PM


So we were over at National Review Online, starting from the link to K. Lo, and we happened upon David Frum’s short, year-old review of Anne Applebaum’s superb Gulag: A History, which just won the Pulitzer for general nonfiction.

Since conservatives generally tend to reduce material about the Gulag to agitprop (as Applebaum does not) when they write about it, we were wondering what Frum would say, now that the Cold War and the Soviet Union are long dead and the idea of keeping a bunch of prisoners without charges indefinitely in a distant, far-flung system of concentration camps is a key part of the American war on terror.

If you’re used to his previous work, such as it is, Frum doesn’t disappoint:

The Gulag was the Soviet Union. We may imagine inmates chopping trees, like Ivan Denisovich, or digging for gold in Kolyma.

Durak. Anybody who’s ever read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich knows full well that Ivan and his work brigade are out in the Siberian chill laying bricks, not chopping trees (although, to give Frum a smidgen of credit, logging was indeed the most common industry inside the barbed wire).

What does it say about the once-respectable NR that this error has apparently remained unnoticed for almost a full year?

posted by Sully 4/06/2004 12:59:00 AM


How much do you bet that Dodd’s remarks will get one smidgen of the media attention Trent Lott’s hailing of Strom Thurmond did?

You already noticed them much earlier than it took you to say anything at all about Lott’s remarks, Blog Queen.

More seriously, while Dodd’s remarks are sort of silly, making it look as if he wasn’t aware of Byrd’s past in the Klan (we suspect there may well soon be an opening on Sen. Dodd’s staff), one should remember that, unlike Lott, Dodd wasn’t speaking of his subject’s actual run for President on an openly racist platform, but rather as a hypothetical.

If conservatives want to go around condemning liberals as squishy-soft avatars of moral relativism and equivalence, it would help their cause considerably if they refrained from such gestures themselves, particularly in the area of petty attempts at political payback.

What Dodd said was foolish, and deserves criticism for that, but was not as ignorant and offensive as Lott’s tacit endorsement of a rabidly segregationist presidential bid.

And just how is it that this qualifies for the Derbyshire Award? By his own definition, on the list of award criteria that he actually feels he needs to publish, these are limited to:

statements by public figures or writers that amount to right-wing hyperbole, hate-speech or manic paranoia.

Dodd is hardly a right-winger, and neither is Byrd, to judge by their shared 95 ADA ratings. And does his statement rise to, in any way, the level of “right-wing hyperbole, hate-speech or manic paranoia?” We didn’t think so.

On the other hand, given MWO’s recent fadeout, we were wondering what had become of Henry Hanks.


Hesiod with some good context:

For one thing, Chris Dodd is not well known for hanging out with racists like the “Council of Conservative Citizens” back in his home state of Connecticut. And, he probably is ignorant or simply sloppy in his knowledge of Senate history, and Byrd’s actions in the Senate during the Civil Rights era. While, the same can almost certainly be said to be UNTRUE with respect to Trent Lott's knowledge of what Strom Thurmond’s 1948 Presidential Platform was.

Lott may not have known the particulars, but he certainly knew that Thurmond ran on a segregation ticket. Also, Lott was a young man at the University of Mississippi when James Meredith was admitted there. He was right in the middle of the Civil Rights battles of the 50s and 60s. In fact, Lott led the national fight to keep African Americans out of his college fraternity. Lott admits it was a mistake and is remorseful over his actions. But, still, he has a HISTORY that Chris Dodd simply doesn’t have.


Even so, Dodd said something stupid. And, both he and Senator Byrd should work out some way to apologize for this.

’Nuff said.

EVEN LATER: Max Sawicky and the new-look TAPped. From the latter:

The anti-racist right has engaged in an awful lot of self-congratulatory myth-making about the whole Lott situation, but the fact remains that he’s got a pretty sweet deal as is, and I didn’t exactly see tons of conservatives lining up to demand harsher measures.

Written by — who else? — Matt Yglesias.

posted by Sully 4/06/2004 12:20:00 AM

Monday, April 05, 2004


But once the decision was made to invade Iraq, the decision to understaff the occupation was already made as well. The two went with each other; Rumsfeld wasn’t ever going to approve an invasion plan with a politically dangerous amount of troops anyway. No matter how right Shinseki was. He wanted his war to test his lighter-and-quicker theories.

Of course, it could have worked — had we worked harder to find allies. Real allies.

Or not believed Chalabi.

Jo Fish really hands it to Sully on this one:

Andrew should never be allowed near any documents that resemble foreign policy. Either he’s just making stuff up as usual, or making it up to cover for what he did or didn’t say on Hardball (sorry, I missed it).


It’s instructive to remember that other than homosexuality, a will to empire is practically built in those DNA-sequences possesed by the Duchess. Even had his mouth been saying no, his mind would have been going “yessssss, Empire at last (again) and I’m a part of it!”

So he now believes that there might not be sufficient troops to get control with in the timframe demanded by our “instant-fix” society (and election-year politics) . He doesn’t mention how the truly stealthy (but a most important part) of the handover — bringing the more provincial players onto the stage will be accomplished, you know the ones who want to begin their negotiation for a place in the “peace talks” by starting with “all sharia, all the time” and not moving much from there. I doubt anyone who is a player on either side wants to piss off these hardliners, just to begin a civil war over headscarves and liquor sales. But they might.

So Andy, you have 90 days to boldly go where Fearless Leader has never gone before, admitting there were bad problems with the invasion, turning to the UN for assistance on their terms, which might at least begin dialogs closed til now. Thus offering a stunning dose of humility to the 1600 Crew, and they love their piety and humility in a pew on Sunday.

You know, we’re sort of wondering if the Republicans aren’t purposely doing this on the expectation that Bush will lose the election, things will really go to hell in Iraq on Kerry’s watch, the public will blame him and restore the heir presumptive, Prince Jeb, to his rightful place in 2008.

Now, if we were as cold a dialectician as, say, Grover Norquist, we’d be secretly hoping for a Bush victory this November ... four years of deepening military quagmires; a concomitant precipitous drop in U.S. power and influence across the globe; widening disparities in income, wealth and opportunity; deficits spiraling out of control and the attendant increased likelihood of Argentine-style financial crises would all guarantee that Republicans would have a tough time being elected to even dogcatcher for a generation or two.

But we have to live in the real world where these crises would play out, alas, so we’re not at that point.

Not yet, anyway.

posted by Sully 4/05/2004 04:02:00 PM

Sunday, April 04, 2004


From his appearance on Chris Matthews this morning, we gather Sullivan took to heart our advice about getting a suit that fits.

This go-round, he was paneled with Laura “Bunny Boiler” Ingraham; Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, and Norah O’Donnell.

He actually had some interesting points, such as noting that Air America faces the tendency of liberals to prefer that radio they listen to be more like NPR than Rush.

However, at the end of the show (transcripts will not be available for a while), when asked to tell Chris Matthews something he doesn’t know (and wouldn’t you once like to see a guest take the advantage of this to say something like “That rug wouldn’t fool a six-year–old, Chris”), this man who so recently insisted (see link to George Cerny below) that dwelling on the past was counterproductive says that the 9/11 report, when it comes out, will make Bush look really good and Clinton look really bad.

posted by Sully 4/04/2004 04:13:00 PM

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Also worth checking out


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Greatest Hits (ours):


The Alaskan climate graph examined

Proof positive that Sullivan cannot, and should not, be trusted as a journalist to get his facts right.


The fisking of Norah Vincent

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


Excerpts from Lee Siegel's 2001 Harper's piece

Online here exclusively.


Why we blog the way we blog

A reply to some legitimate and friendly criticisms from Andrew Edwards


Why we blog the way we blog, Part II.

A reply to some of the same criticisms from the less friendly (back then) Arthur Silber


Bush-hating and proud of it

Our response to David Brooks.


Who Was That Masked Man?

The Horse remembered.


How the media lynched O.J. Simpson

Off-topic and our most controversial post ever.


Journalists behaving badly, updated.

Our wedding gift to Ruth Shalit, former TNR It Girl




Eve Tushnet's classic zinger

Sullivan has never quite been put in his place like this. Even Mickey Kaus thought it was funny.


"Bush reveals his poisonous colours"

Diane E. goes digging through the memory hole and finds a Times of London column Sullivan would prefer be forgotten.


The Datalounge list of potential titles for his memoirs

As reposted by Atrios


"The Princess of Provincetown"

Jim Capozzola goes further in that direction than we would ever dare.


Sullivan urges the Bush Administration to lie to the public

Brendan and Ben catch him in the act.


The Washington Times: An irredeemably left-wing rag

Bob Somerby shows the consequences of Sullivan's own logic of media bias


The Central Tenets of the Blogosphere

Derived from Sullivan’s blogging by s.z. of World O’ Crap and posted as a comment at Sadly, No!