Friday, April 23, 2004
SOUTH DAKOTA: CAPITAL OF RIGHT-WING POLITICAL HYPE OR JUST A LOT OF BORING PRAIRIE AND MOUNT RUSHMORE?:
The Ghost of Howard Beale finds less than meets the eye in that Argus Leader thing.
posted by Sully 4/23/2004 11:58:00 PM
THE SOUND OF SILENCE:
Since it broke a month or so ago, Sullivan has said not one word, at least for public consumption, about the scandal surrounding former USA Today reporter Jack Kelley and his fabrication of stories, which has now (déja vu all over again) cost the paper’s top editor her job. We’ve been giving him the benefit of the doubt, also remembering that he just doesn’t have the same beef with USA Today as he did with Howell Raines.
Now, as we read at Roger Ailes’ blog this morning, McPaper has, just as the Times did a year ago, come out with a detailed report addressing what could not be substantiated and how Kelley got away with it.
Some of the conclusions are awfully familiar:
A virus of “fear” — defined somewhat differently by different staff critics — clearly infected some staffers in the News section and inhibited them from pushing complaints about Kelley. Some staff members said they were scolded or insulted when they expressed concerns about Kelley to editors. We did not find that “a culture of fear” blankets the entire newspaper or most of its departments. It is alive and sick in the News section.
Kelley’s status as “the star” of the News staff, his frequent appearances on national television, his many speeches before diverse audiences, and the impression he conveyed that ranking executives of USA TODAY were his close friends gave him a special standing in the minds of many staffers. His severest critics believed that "the star" was untouchable.
A perusal of Kelley’s annual evaluation reviews reveals that editors gave him good performance marks, even as he was betraying the paper. The reviews do reflect admonitions that he was naïve and too trusting in dealing with his sources. There is no indication that these red flags influenced how editors dealt with him day-to-day.
Lines of communication running both horizontally and vertically among the sections (or “silos”) at the newspaper are palpably defective. USA TODAY operates more as four separate newspapers in four separate “silos” (some staffers used the word "fiefdoms") than a single publication. Communications deficiencies promote turf problems among departments.
And this bit sounds like it was straight out of that Vanity Fair article about Raines:
“When I said I was going to tell a senior editor I didn’t believe Jack, I was told: ‘You don't want to go there.’”
And, lastly, there’s this:
There can be no doubt that the top USA TODAY executives felt friendship for Kelley, whom they found attractive, talented and charming. Nor can there be doubt that Kelley made no secret of these friendships and found ways to let his peers and immediate supervisors know that he had a first- name relationship with their bosses. More than a few reporters told us they thought the image of Kelley as a reporter with close friends in high places made editors uncomfortable when they heard criticism of Kelley. Editors uniformly denied this.
We’ve more than made the obvious point that despite more than superficial similarities to the Jayson Blair scandal, Sullivan has apparently found none of this worth his attention.
In his defense, one could say that USA Today does not enjoy the status in our culture that The New York Times does, as indeed their respective nicknames would suggest.
But, on the frequently-present other hand, as Atrios points out, Kelley got away with this for a lot longer and wrote stories that had the potential to more widely affect public opinion, especially seeing as a lot more Americans read USA Today every day, over a larger portion of the country, then the Times. Blair, by contrast, did his most serious damage only to the Times’s coverage of the DC sniper case.
OK, we’ll concede that Sullivan just doesn’t have the animus here that he did for the Times. But he cares, or at least pretends to care, so much about journalism and integrity that, even if he doesn’t quite meet his own standards, he’s willing to run two paragraphs quoted from someone else’s blog in which the editor of the newspaper of record in an arguably backwater state crankily stands his ground against critics of his political correspondent.
If for nothing else than to cover his ass on charges of racial disparity, Sullivan ought to at least acknowledge this.
posted by Sully 4/23/2004 11:38:00 AM
FUNNY YOU SHOULD SAY THAT:
Hey, it worked for Rush ...
Even from our perspective we can’t say that blogging on painkillers “worked” for Limbaugh, unless you define “worked” as “getting addicted, not kicking despite three times going to dry out, having your housekeeper blow you in to a national tabloid and then getting caught in the crosshairs of a money-laundering investigation.”
posted by Sully 4/23/2004 11:06:00 AM
Why is so much expected of Iraq so quickly?
Because quick change and an easy transfer were what was promised? Because South Africa didn’t have a huge occupying army?
UPDATE: Adam Moore says this does it for him and Sully.
Rather than dealing with their weaknesses and offering a more nuanced response, Andrew Sullivan simply notes his approval that at least this writer is on the “right side” of the issue of war and terrorism. I can barely stand his analogies. I can’t stand how close his comments come to Instapundit in being little snarky “gotcha” points that offer no real insight into matters.
If I didn’t have Joshua Micah Marshall's analysis, I don’t what I'd do with myself. Talking Points Memo is a treat. Mr. Marshall actually offers up what points he knows are weak and talks about why he is still willing to lean one way rather than the other. Andrew Sullivan treats his readers like children who need to believe the world is black and white, and it makes my blood boil. Anyone who sends his readers to the Washington Times (or lets himself repeat the trash of the right wing blogsphere) should stew with them. I’m done reading it
So it is with proud fanfare that I announce I am done driving up his hit counter.
... anything would have been better than Sullivan’s strained logic. Can you imagine if in the build up to the war, Bush had said “It’s going to be a lot like South Africa!” Sullivan would had to stare really hard at a map to convince himself that South Africa is part of the Middle East. And of course, we would be hearing about how “Things in South Africa are getting better all the time!” Ultimately, Andrew Sullivan gives another double standard. Analogies are dangerous and bad when they highlight how it’s not so good and sweet in Iraq, but analogies are good and sweet when they distort in ways that justify dangerous and bad policies. Ultimately, if we are going to engage in any sort of summarization of the problem, we should look to times where there has been an occupying force. Because we are ultimately having this debate over national security and the safety of our own troops.
Anyway, the great thing about SullyWatch is that I get informed about the stuff Sullivan posts without having to read his site. It’s like a beautiful dream.
Glad to be of use.
Of course, as we’ve been realizing for some time now, the real analogy to Iraq is ... Lebanon.
Logan Circle Guy adds:
Well, duh, Andrew, and duh to your reader. No one seems terribly surprised by what’s happening in Iraq, so it’s unclear what the point is (that Andrew finds so compelling that he cites this letter as an example of the thinking of "the smartest readers on the web." (I guess agreeing with Andrew makes you smart.)
If anyone is surprised, it ought to be George Bush and Dick Cheney, since they are the ones who insisted that Iraquis would be thrilled when we invaded their countries, welcome us by throwing rose petals upon us, and thank us for helping them out. Many of us thought that was bullshit when the administration was making its case for war (but not Andrew). Turns our we were right (and Andrew was not).
So it’s not surprise you’re hearing from the people you dismiss as “the left,” Andrew. It’s anger at being lied to. If you weren’t so hellbent on supporting your idol no matter how dishonest and incompetent he’s proving himself to be, and you weren’t so willing respond to everything from the administration with “thank you Sir, may I have another?” you might get a bit angry too.
What a putz.
posted by Sully 4/23/2004 11:00:00 AM
Thursday, April 22, 2004
TACKING INTO THE WIND ...:
George comes through again with a detailed accounting of Sullivan’s increasing tendecy to sound like that PA in the enemy base near the end of Doctor No (“Ten minutes to launch and everything is A-OK” as Bond and the henchmen are engaged in a firefight that is spreading panic and flame all over the screen).
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 12:49:00 PM
OH, THAT PRESS CONFERENCE WAS JUST SUCH A GREAT PERFORMANCE, AND THE PEOPLE SAW THROUGH THE LIBERAL MEDIA’S CLUMSY ATTEMPT TO HOLD PRESIDENT BUSH “ACCOUNTABLE,” WHATEVER THAT MEANS ...:
On Monday, The New York Times reported that growing numbers of conservatives are turning against President Bush on Iraq. This follows an inarticulate defense of the Iraq operation by Bush in a press conference last week and growing attacks on our troops.
In short, President Bush often seems to operate like the character from “Alice in Wonderland” who declared, “Sentence first — verdict afterwards.” Instead of figuring out why and how things should be done before acting, the White House seems to act first and then create ex post facto rationalizations for that decision in lieu of serious deliberation.
And this is no flaming liberal, either.
You really believed Lowry on that one, didn’t you?
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 12:40:00 PM
RANDALL TERRY: IT GETS EVEN WORSE:
From Max Sawicky we learn that one of Randall Terry’s daughters has not shacked up with Mary Cheney but has done something even worse ... she became a Muslim!
Sullivan and the LGF contingent should thus start pouring derision upon all evangelical Christians, charging that their families are a breeding ground for Islamofascists among us (actually, if we were fundamentalist Muslims bent on destroying Western civilization and re-establishing the caliphate, we’d look at frustrated Christian fundamentalists as future converts to jihad. They have a lot less further to go in that direction than they think).
The info comes from a passage in a Washington Post story in which Terry also says this:
“The Bible,” Randall notes, “doesn’t condemn divorce, but it does condemn homosexuality.”
Which, of course, is the exact opposite of what Jesus really did say. So much for WWJD ... as long as you know what Jesus really meant, it’s all good.
Please, everyone, if you can and you haven’t made plans to do this already, go down to Washington and march for reproductive rights this weekend. You need no further proof that God is, despite everything, really on our side.
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 12:30:00 PM
AS USUAL, HE’S THE LAST TO KNOW:
Left-wing bloggers discovered fundrace.org and all its fun at least a month ago.
And, as we discovered at the time, Sullivan has a namesake, right down to the middle initial who contributed to ... Joe Lieberman!
He hasn’t, according to this, made any contributions (financially, anyway ... he’s already exceeded Rove’s expectations in terms of in-kind) yet, but when he does we doubt he’ll have much company
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 11:48:00 AM
AND ANOTHER LOAD COMES OFF THE TRUCK ...:
Once again, it’s time for another of Smalltown Boy’s legendary anonemails (Our coinage ... feel free to use it). And it’s getting a little old that these always come from really well-informed military chaplains. Maybe it’s real but certain spin points and implications jump out at us:
Iraq has 25 million people and is the size of California. Faluja and surrounding towns total 500,000 people. Do the math: that's not a big percentage of Iraq. How many people were murdered last night in L.A.? Did it make headline news? Why not?
Do they really think we don’t forget old, discredited spinpoints? (and he even repeats it later on: “585 dead American's made an investment here. That's a whole lot less than were killed on American highways last month.” Pace this response:
I’ll concede Rumsfeld his “Baghdad is like DC” analogy when I read the following story in the paper:
Washington D.C. (Reuters) — A rocket-propelled grenade hit an ambulance in southern D.C. on Thursday, killing an policeman and wounding two, a D.C. police spokesman said.
Our good reverend also tells us:
Saddam could not and did not control Faluja. He bought off those he could, killed those he couldn’t and played all leaders against one another. It was and is a ‘difficult’ town.
But didn’t we hear, for months at a time, how it was a center of Saddam loyalism? (In fairness, riverbend’s writings about Tikrit lend some support for this view).
And doesn’t this sound like a setup for a justification of harsh tactics that would never be justified elsewhere? “Saddam had trouble here, so don’t blame us if we have to get a little rough”
This country became a welfare state under Saddam. If you cared about your well-fare, you towed the line or died. The state did your thinking and your bidding. Want a job? Pledge allegiance to the Ba’ath party. Want an apartment, a car, etc? Show loyalty. Electricity, water, sewage, etc. was paid by the state. Go with the flow: life is good. Don't and you're dead. Now, what does that do to initiative? drive? industry?
Then how does that square with a wild, barely-controllable Fallujah? If anything, that suggests to us that the Fallujaati would be more capable of handling freedom, not less?
And if initiative, drive and industry were so dampened by all this, why were we so worried about all these cutting-edge WMD programs Saddam was supposed to have?
The bad guys are convinced that Americans have no stomach for a long haul effort here.
We don’t disagree that that’s one of their major strategic assumptions, but this also raises three other questions, or rather sets of questions:
1) Do we? Did we back in April 2003? If we didn’t then, do we now? What would it take to establish such stomach in the American people if we don’t have it now?
2) Do the terrorists/fedayeen/guerillas have any intention of going through a long campaign? Why do we seem to be conducting our war as if assuming we could rope-a-dope them?
3) What if North Korea invades South Korea, and we have to pull troops from Iraq? What happens then?
The alternative? Turn tail, pull out and leave a power vacuum that will suck in all of Iraq’s neighbors and spark a civil war that could make Rwanda look like a misdemeanor.
Ah yes, we agree, but remember that we created that power vacuum in the first place so that we could fill it. Remember we were supposed to be mostly out of there by now because Chalabi would make all the trains run on time.
QUICK UPDATE: Hesiod with a report from the Army News Service and an LA Times story via Billmon that suggest the problems in Iraq may be worse than the chaplain would have you believe.
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 11:41:00 AM
HAPPY RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S BIRTHDAY!:
In-joke for people who actually read this book instead of merely seeing the movie. And maybe also fans of this band.
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 11:03:00 AM
THE LOGICAL IMPLICATIONS:
Jo Fish, as usual, is all over Sullivan.
Unbelievably, Sullivan is still pushing that “better to fight them there than here” line, forgetting that there was no need to fight them at all in Iraq. One of the most telling things about Sullivan is his (unwitting?) telegraphy of the NeoCon positions on some issues that concern the middle east and Iraq is among the prime examples. Nowhere in his writings anymore do the rationales for invasion include the fabled WMDs. It’s always “Bad Saddam” and freedom and democracy for the Iraqi middle-class. It’s always the rosy optimism of the CPA briefings, and it’s always how we are about to turn the corner, if only the terrorists could be made to understand that Peace, Freedom and the American Way are what they want.
Never mind that his fellow republicans bemoan the lack of assasination in their toolbox for dealing with political opponents, which if course sounds suspiciously like what a certain cleric in Iraq stands accused of doing. How far apart are the two, really? Do we invade New Mexico next, because it sounds like that flypaper thing has some real practical application there?
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 10:57:00 AM
WELL, GOOD, THAT MEANS AT LEAST ONE INTERNET CAFE IN PROVINCETOWN WILL BE SAFE:
So we fight on. And I mean: fight.
It would mean so much more if you were saying that from Basra.
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 08:33:00 AM
Kurtz also wants to argue that same-sex marriage advocates are cultural radicals who wish to destroy the traditional family.
Andrew, he believes that all gays are cultural radicals who wish to destroy the traditional family.
He has barely acknowledged the long battle that gay conservatives have waged against some gay radicals in the U.S. and elsewhere in promoting civil marriage rights.
Yup, Andrew, it really hurts that everyone can’t see how important you are as easily as you can.
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 08:30:00 AM
WHY 9/11 HAPPENED, IN A NUTSHELL:
That isn’t easy anywhere — but better to have drawn these elements out and to fight them in a struggle for Arab and Muslim democracy than to play constant, fitful defense at home.
This is what the Bush team was thinking when it pondered the possibility of an imminent terror attack in the United States. For “constant, fitful defense” read “heightened security at likely targets and basic law enforcement.” They didn’t want to play any defense at all because that would have looked weak. They didn’t want to commit to one plan because of the erroneous belief that doing so would destroy their options for the bigger plan they were considering.
And they still don’t, as a look at the Homeland Security budget can tell you.
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 08:26:00 AM
SHH ... MUSTN’T!:
So, one should be careful not to criticize Israel lest one encourage antisemitism? As the article itself says:
Yesterday, MPs warned that anti-Israeli feeling should not spill over into criticism of Jews in general, many of whom do not support the policies of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.
Stephen Byers, a former transport secretary who chairs the committee on anti-Semitism, said that anti-Israeli criticism should not be used as “a cloak of respectability” for racist views. He said there was the danger of the development of an “intellectual argument” bolstering anti-Semitic feeling. “We need to be robust on confronting anti-Semitic views wherever these may occur,” Mr Byers said.
Mr Purnell said memories of the Holocaust had largely inoculated Europe against anti-Semitism for 60 years, but some people on the extreme left had allowed themselves to find “some extremely strange bedfellows” in their criticism of Israel. “During the anti-war protests there were some really terrifying pictures of individuals dressed up as suicide bombers holding banners with the Star of David and an equals sign to a swastika,” he said. “This apparent embrace of such symbols by the anti-war left is absolutely astounding.”
Yes. As astounding as the pro-war right essentially holding signs in which a peace sign is equated with a swastika.
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 08:12:00 AM
OOPS ... FORGOT SOMETHING:
Looks like Sullivan forgot to include a link in that item about Sevan.
posted by Sully 4/22/2004 08:06:00 AM
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
THE DEAD HAND STILL WINS:
George with yet another item Sullivan won’t be retracting anytime soon.
posted by Sully 4/21/2004 02:05:00 PM
MAYBE NOW WE’LL RETIRE THE TERM OR RENAME IT:
Jonah complains (Building on Ramesh Ponnuru) about Sullivan’s fetishistic and triumphal use of the word “fisk” as only he can:
Second: “Fisking.” I know the word began as something of a mode of criticism based upon critiques of Robert Fisk. But it has come to mean something else. I think Ramesh nailed this perfectly when he defined it as “criticizing with an unjustified air of having crushed the other side.” In this sense, I don’t mind “fisking” as a process or an adjective. What I detest is when it is self-declared. If fisking now means to humiliate through criticism and fact-checking or some such, fine. But it is in the minds of the audience to decide whether someone has been “fisked.” This should be abundantly clear if you replace the word with its synonyms. I would sound fairly presumptuous if I declared “I’ve crushed Glenn Reynolds argument today.”
I get emails from bloggers telling me they’ve “fisked me” all the time and, putting aside the fact this sounds like something unpleasant in a prison shower, when I read what they wrote I usually just think they’ve criticized me in fairly unimpressive ways. Leave it to the readers to decide who’s been “fisked.” None of this is particularly directed at Sullivan, but he may not fully appreciate the degree to which the meaning of the word has changed.
Nor either of them the fact that the technique of line-by-line or word-by-word refutations is hardly new to blogdom ... it’s been around since at least the early 1990s on Usenet to our recollection, and doubtless dates back even further to the first time text editors were able to cut and paste.
posted by Sully 4/21/2004 01:55:00 PM
OK, we agree with Sullivan that continuing the status quo of 2002 would not have been good for anybody in or out of Iraq save Saddam and his cronies. Whatever one feels about European opposition to the war, it is true that many European companies profited from end-runs around the sanctions (in a New York Times Magazine article about the sanctions, one of the people charged with enforcing them under Clinton was amused and disgusted that the European countries, which had been clamoring for an end to them for years, suddenly found them adequate when war was threatened).
But the inefficacy of the sanctions does not mean an invasion was necessary, at least not to anyone obsessed with “something big.”
What we’ve long believed we could have done, and which the memo of yesterday’s story indicated still hasn't been done, was the use of forces already in the region to secure first Iraq’s key transportation corridors to the south and west and then, if still necessary, the country's entire borders, as a way of really making the sanctions stick. Then you could have extended the no-fly zone to the entire country as well. We would see how long Saddam could have held out without any under-the-table relief to use to further his control.
And Sullivan should stop acting as if all the negative consequences of the invasion we are currently experiencing weren’t predicted beforehand, particularly the one that prevented this from happening back in the early 1990s: a power vacuum in danger of being filled by Iraqi Shiite fundamentalists under Iran’s sway, and a large U.S. occupying army caught in the middle.
posted by Sully 4/21/2004 01:48:00 PM
COLLEGIALITY AMONG THE CONS:
Lowry’s response, while as civilized and deferential as we would expect a public disagreement between two people nominally on the same side to be, does betray some veiled irritation at the vagaries of Sullivan’s punditry that we and others have long noted, particularly the Sage of South Goodstone’s (it’s alliterative; we continue to use it despite his growing up in East Grimstead) penchant for equivocation:
He objects to our using the phrase “a glimpse at the abyss” to characterize the last couple of weeks in Iraq. Yet when the recent bout of trouble broke out there, Sullivan himself employed the phrase “nightmarish portents” to describe it.
Sullivan complains when we say the difficulty of a new Iraq was underestimated — but then agrees with us, more or less. He writes, “Yes, many did underestimate the astonishing damage done to civil society by decades of the most brutal dictatorship imaginable, the devastation of sanctions on the Iraqi infrastructure, and the psychological damage done to the communal psyche after living in a collective torture chamber for years on end.” That’s a lot of underestimating. Sullivan then goes on to implicitly lower expectations: “But again, what are the standards of success here?”
And his success in the feverish pursuit of scarecrows:
Sullivan wraps up with a flurry of straw-man arguments. Nowhere do we advocate, as Sullivan writes, “‘leaving it’ as soon as we can.” Sullivan explains that there is no “exit strategy” in Iraq, suggesting that NR calls for one. We don’t. In fact, we hate the very idea of “exit strategies,” and have said so over the years — they’re often just ways to cut and run. More Sullivan: “To have supported the invasion of Iraq only now to support as quick an exit is possible is to give us the worst of both worlds.” Right. The editorial notes the potentially disastrous consequences of getting chased from Iraq. Now, at the end we do say that we will have to defer more to Iraqis on the ground going forward — an obvious point, made by other hawks. Otherwise, how is this political transition going to work?
posted by Sully 4/21/2004 01:34:00 PM
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
DO NOT BET ON THE DARK ONE. YOU WILL NEVER WIN:
World O’ Crap looks at how evangelicals are spinning the poll results, and sez:
One of these days, Sullivan is just going to face up to the fact that he has tried to make common cause with a party and a political movement that has basically told people like him to go to hell (where, per the true evangelicals, they will spend eternity in a lake of fire, along with the Jews, Hindus, atheists, and the New Age guru who thinks he saw Jesus in a cloud of marijuana smoke).
posted by Sully 4/20/2004 03:55:00 PM
Steve Mussina hits the nail on the head about why the Bush administration’s preoccupation with a grand scheme to rid the world of all terror once and for all failed so colossally:
Bush was so determined to have a big, broad, globe-spanning anti-terror plan that his administration never really grasped that the 9/11 attacks were coming. Bush was so determined to transform the entire Arab/Muslim world that bin Laden was never caught and the peace in Afghanistan was never truly secured. And now we learn that the plan to transform Iraq was so thoroughgoing that just keeping the lights on was seen as a job not worth doing.
In each case, the plans were so big that “small” things — things that were utterly crucial — never got done.
Basically what we were getting at in the conclusion to this post.
ADDENDUM: Steve’s post was in response to this Jason Vest article that everyone’s reading.
posted by Sully 4/20/2004 03:26:00 PM
INFANT OF THE SPRING:
George Cerny with a reminder for Sullivan of his own Pollyanna days, barely a year ago.
posted by Sully 4/20/2004 02:57:00 PM
GAS TAX THOUGHTS:
Lileks’s take on Sullivan (funny that, after months of liberal bloggers doing what he considers his franchise to him better than he does it to other people, he finally recognizes that he can be put on the other end just as easily) is actually pretty good.
While we quibble with Lileks on this one point — “Everything I have in this room was brought here by truck. A gas tax would have increased the price of everything I see. Everything. ” (James, coming from a family that runs gas stations you should surely know that it’s diesel that makes trucks go, not gasoline. One could hike the tax on gas only (if the two aren’t already taxed at separate rates)) — he makes many of the same points against this argument for a wholesale, willy-nilly broad hike in the gas tax that we wanted to make.
We’re aware that a common foreign criticism of American fiscal policy during the 1980s was that if we but taxed gasoline at levels comparable to other countries, we could wipe it out our deficit in years. But what those critics forgot was that those governments in Europe and elsewhere that taxed fuel so heavily had, at least originally, made sure the money went to improvements in the transportation infrastructure and other services that made it , for most of the population, worth it.
Our disinclination to follow this approach has undeniably had problematic consequences outside the economy, true. But playing catchup in one big fell swoop is also, as Lileks points out, going to have adverse consequences ... particularly since we are stuck with an economy and accompanying social setup that is based around the easy affordability of gasoline. It cannot change just like the last 50 years had never happened.
Lileks omits, of course, that Sullivan suggests this could be offset economically at least with (surprise) an income tax cut. But he’s right that people will get angrier about this tax per se and demand complete repeal more so than they would with a commensurate income tax.
Because what Sullivan doesn’t appreciate, as a non-driver, is that most people pay for gasoline out of what we’d call, in business terms, their operating cash flow, and what most people refer to as out-of-pocket; whereas income and payroll taxes manifest themselves merely as larger numbers on your paycheck stub.
And you feel the pain of taking a twenty and a ten, or your credit card, out of your wallet or purse typically on a once- or twice-weekly basis. Income taxes intrude on your life once a year, or once a quarter for certain types of self-employment.
Also, as liberals, we do have this belief that a) astronomic or exponential increases in a tax are punitive, and that b) most of what you pay for something should actually go to the purchase of that thing and thus the taxes on it should never be more than, at the most, half of the cost. Conservatives may doubt it, but some of us do see this as unfair.
Sullivan is right that we do need to reduce our dependence not just on foreign oil but on oil as a whole for both national-security and environmental reasons ... but why be so monolithic and crude as to do it with a monster gas tax hike?
Spread the burden around a bit. Cars need oil, too ... put a small tax on that, as some states have (and then there's transmission fluid and other oil-derived car fluids). Kerosene, diesel ... they power vehicles too. And then why not modestly tax other petroleum-derived products like, say, plastics and vinyls? Vaseline? Most of that Persian Gulf crude goes into our gas tanks ... but not all.
Work the other end, too. Promote conservation and recycling (more states, like all of them in our opinion, should have bottle-deposit laws. You’d be surprised how much energy gets saved when just one aluminum can or plastic bottle gets recycled rather than made from scratch).
And don’t just put the money into government’s general fund ... that makes lawmakers take it too much for granted. If you want to reduce oil dependency through taxation, it has to give something back. Spend it improving mass transit in urban and suburban areas and developing alternative fuel and energy sources. We think enough of the public would get behind that.
Anyway, sorry to go off topic a little. But just some ideas of ours.
UPDATE: World O’ Crap with this rejoinder on the subject of “wanton” gas use:
Maybe, maybe not. But driving around for 40 minutes for no reason except that your kid fell asleep when you got to the Target parking lot does have to qualify as “undisciplined; spoiled.” So, Mr. Lileks, don’t tell us “if there was a class of people who spent the day driving around in fume-belching VW vans for no particular reason, I missed it.”
posted by Sully 4/20/2004 02:52:00 PM
Perhaps Tenet was being sarcastic, especially because he had to know about all the stovepiping, the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans and how it was set up to end-run the CIA and DIA? This completely doesn’t square with anything else reported about him, particularly a man who released a carefully-worded statement in the wake of the yellowcake debacle that slyly pointed at Condi Rice.
Is it possible, just possible, O Blog Queen, that someone might be maliciously passing this on this way just to make Tenet look bad? Knowing that people like you who have hated Tenet since he was born would, of course, take it for sooth?
Or that it’s even not true at all? Are we really supposed to believe that a man who, for all intents and purposes, signed on to the phony sale of Aloha as a Harken trustee is concerned about “stretching the truth”? A man who pretended for three months that he hadn’t made up his mind on the FMA when he had?
posted by Sully 4/20/2004 02:17:00 PM
“AND THE PARTING ON THE LEFT ...”:
If you had told us fifteen years ago that one day a former editor of the New Republic would use his space in the magazine to excoriate National Review for an editorial getting cold feet on a war, we would have laughed you off.
The actual editorial and fisking deserve little comment, save for this one line in the former:
[I]dealism should occupy an important place in American foreign policy, and almost always has ...
This ... from a magazine whose founding editor famously said: “Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality the cost becomes prohibitive” and regularly attacked Jimmy Carter for the most undeniably idealistic moment in 20th-century U.S. foreign policy, the human-rights campaign of the late 1970s (because, of course, it was undermining regimes the CIA, which had many ties to NR besides Buckley at that time, had worked hard to establish as anti-communist bulwarks).
It’s one thing, we guess, when conservatives ignore the lessons of American history. It’s another entirely when they start ignoring the lessons of the history of their own movement.
But what this really signifies is the continuing collapse of the conservative movement. Ironically, Sullivan, who to be fair was at least rhetorically open to some criticism of the occupation, is still sunstruck; NR, on the other hand, which drank a lot more Kool-Aid, is suddenly smelling the coffee (How’s that for mixing metaphors, or at least putting them uncomfortably close together?). Sullivan for his part is on target when he says “The kind of skepticism and realism National Review’s editors are now flirting with should have demanded no intervention in the first place.”
posted by Sully 4/20/2004 02:07:00 PM
Monday, April 19, 2004
NOT LIKE VIETNAM? YEAH RIGHT ...:
Jo Fish is disdainful of Sullivan’s optimism on Iraq:
The small detail that Sullivan misses, safely ensconsed at his Mark1 Mod0 101-Key, board, unit of issue 1-each, is that not all of those killed were ‘insurgents,’ and that the spirit of revenge and concept of a blood debt will live on, for a long, long time.
posted by Sully 4/19/2004 09:00:00 PM
WE HAVEN’T SAT DOWN YET, AND WE’RE NOT DONE CLAPPING EITHER:
Simply put, you, also, are a prejudiced, opinionated, biased jerk.
The truest words ever found on andrewsullivan.com.
posted by Sully 4/19/2004 08:54:00 PM
SEE YOU, AND RAISE YOU ANTISEMITISM:
Sullivan has apparently responded to being called on the Condi Rice thread (while ignoring what Roger Ailes deftly points out: that the Washington Times, in ignoring her doctorate, makes her sound like some servant) by pulling a new comment thread from the Observer rather than deleting the original post entirely.
As we suspected, despite the suspect waters being treaded by some of the commentators, there are a few people who can tell chicken salad from chickenshit:
you imply that anyone of jewish descent is reponsible for US policy
which is complete bollocks
An awfully large number of people of Jewish descent have no direct (or even indirect) connection with the Israeli state
Let me see if I understand this correctly. There are monkeys on here who believe that that people have to monitor what they say if they have a jewish-sounding last name? Gotta love the anti-semites who have found refuge in the political left. Good thing you can hide behind this message board because I know I could not have said it with a straight face.
For someone who claims that you are not concerned with these men are Jewish or not, you sure do go on a lot about their Jewish roots. There are Jews who attack Israel and Jews who defend it. Guess what? There are also gentile who defend Israel.
I utterly fail to see the bizarre link you draw between these mens' surnames and some connection you see between their journalism. Furthermore, I fail to see the hypocrisy you seem so certain is a problem.
And so forth. We won’t be as exhaustive this time. The point is that Sullivan would have a case in using some commentators on a chat thread to smear an entire side of the political spectrum if there were a relative absence of this degree of dissent. He can point to it if he wants, but as we do on the rarer occasions when we reprint Free Republic threads, he should note that the opinion is far from universal and provide examples.
posted by Sully 4/19/2004 01:55:00 PM
AN OPPORTUNITY TO CORRECT THE RECORD THAT PROBABLY WON’T BE TAKEN:
Ailes also runs an item about a new paranoid right-wing classic about Hillary Clinton’s plan to suppress dissent on the Internet, which apparently insists, among other things, that she pulled strings at The New Republic to get him fired.
Besides the fact that, as Ailes notes, Sullivan is still a contributing editor of the magazine — literally as well as legally — one would thus have to conclude that Leon Wieseltier, as well as Sully himself, were Hillary’s agents, in the latter’s case deviously running the Bell Curve excerpts and the Camille Paglia hot-air balloon on Hillary herself (which drew voluminous angry letters to Peretz from old friends).
But as commenter Son Volt also points out, Sullivan was succeeded by the late Michael Kelly, who replaced distaste for the Clintons with sheer vitriol. So so much for her influence at TNR.
While Sullivan may be pleased at the sight of a conservative writing for a a gay-unfriendly audience defending an openly gay man from perceived attack (all you need to know is that the foreword is by Free Republic founder Jim Robinson), since this is about him and patently untrue, perhaps he could set the record straight with a simple blog post ... you know, like what he’s always saying blogs have the power to do.
If he wants to prove that his distaste for Hillary and Bill Clinton is purely a policy matter, rooted in intellectual rather than emotional concerns, there’s no time like now.
posted by Sully 4/19/2004 01:38:00 PM
OK, PARTIAL CREDIT:
Roger Ailes reports that Sullivan has indeed allowed his Yee outrage to surface in his secret Washington Times column — without, of course, any added reference calling any prominent conservatives, much less the Times itself to account for mendacious writing about the case.
The implied answer as to why Sullivan didn’t do that comes from Ailes’ other observation, that he lets them get away with putting quotes around the “m” word when it follows “gay” (which, itself, the Times admits it routinely replaces with “homosexual” when used by someone other than Sullivan).
As one of Ailes’ commentators puts it:
Perhaps Andres (next he will appear as Andrejz Sowolivan) has high hopes that the Rev. Sun M Moon will arrange one of those large group weddings and gays will be included in it. He wants particularly to partake of their style of wedding and all it's esoteric trappings. Andres is quite fascinated by the prospect. Hence, masquerading baldly, under a Nome de Fake, he is churning out verbiage in their Moonie rag. But alas, once a hack, always a hack. Poor Sully, no one told him.
Remember all this the next time he blathers on about integrity and ethics at the New York Times or the Guardian or wherever.
posted by Sully 4/19/2004 01:24:00 PM
“CABS ARE THERE FOR A REASON”:
Nowhere, not once, in his Time piece does Sullivan disclose the tidbit that started this whole discussion in the first place, the one which readers in airplane seats and doctors’ waiting rooms across the country would surely be interested in knowing to better evaluate his arguments: that he does not know how to drive and does not plan ever to.
Only the readers of his blog know this. We think it’s at least as relevant, if not more, than knowing that Paul Krugman took Enron money once before ... viciously criticizing the company on the op-ed pages of the New York Times.
And then, suggesting that while there is definitely no honor among thieves there may well be among dissemblers, Ramesh Ponnuru graciously fails to mention it either in his rebuttal, even though the admission was the subject of great discussion over on The Corner, and none other than NRO editor Jonah Goldberg pointed it out.
posted by Sully 4/19/2004 01:13:00 PM
Isn’t it so like our Blog Queen to assume that, if he personally addresses himself to an organ of the Communist Chinese government, it will heed him?
posted by Sully 4/19/2004 01:08:00 PM