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

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


Saturday, May 15, 2004


Half the Sun story consists of quotes of the Mirror’s own apologia. Most of the rest is simple reportage of what had happened. Only in the lede graf do you get any hint of emotion: “his newspaper admitted its Iraq torture pictures WERE fakes.”

Whatever their writers may be feeling, the Sun handled this rather professionally, especially given the nature of British tabloid journalism. Of course, that may be exactly why they did ... perhaps they themselves know that at some point in the future it will be the Mirror’s chance to laugh at them.

posted by Sully 5/15/2004 09:31:00 PM

Friday, May 14, 2004


As dumb as he is evil. I don’t think he understands the Jeffersonian tendency in American life and culture.

And we don’t think we understand exactly what “the Jeffersonian tendency in American life and culture” means (conceiving illegitimate children with your less racially blessed underlings?) at least in this context, much less what that has to do with fighting Islamist terrorism. It’s not like Zarqawi’s defending a doctoral dissertation in American studies here, for crying out loud!

UPDATE: Well, even the Blog Queen realized this was nuts. But we don’t understand how “Jacksonian” fits in any better.

posted by Sully 5/14/2004 04:26:00 PM


Jo Fish has yet another final take on Sully:

I guess that the actual, verifiable misdeeds of military miscreants of all ranks and positions is far less important to Andrew than his new tabloid interests. Well, in keeping with his new drive to be an up'n'coming Tabloid Blogger, look for him to fly to Mexico City to cover the strange lights in the sky, be abducted and conceive an Alien Baby, who will look like ... Perlowitz ...

posted by Sully 5/14/2004 04:24:00 PM

Thursday, May 13, 2004


George Cerny imagines the front page of the New York Times if Sullivan wrote the heds.

UPDATE: Today, George tracks the paradoxes of Sullivan’s Times-obsession.

I just noticed that today, Sullivan himself linked to the above story. So, the NY Times can’t be trusted to properly report events on a given subject, but, that’s where Sullivan goes to for news on that same subject.
I know he’s posted two hundred thousand words on his blog and all, but would it kill him to actually read some of them?

UPDATE AGAIN: And then Logan Circle Guy on the same theme? Has anyone ever seen John and George together?

Of course, what could be happening is that there are new developments in the prison abuse story, such as members of Congress reviewing photos even more disturbing than what we’ve seen last night, and new testimony from the participants, whereas there is nothing new in the Berg story — the horrible conclusion has already occurred. And the web stats he cites tell us that people are eager to see the grisly video, but not much else. Rentals of “Faces of Death” have always been popular too.

But anything to build his paranoid fantasy, I suppose.

posted by Sully 5/13/2004 11:33:00 PM


I feel more committed this week to getting this liberation right than I have for months.

Perhaps this is his way of saying he’s going to really get serious, buckle down and make sure there are no lame spelling errors on his blog. Yup, that’s what’s been turning those ‘raqis off.

posted by Sully 5/13/2004 11:30:00 PM


We couldn’t have been happier to learn from today’s TAPped that Dorothy Rabinobitch has gotten some comeuppance for her totally mean-spirited and uncalled-for attack on the so-called Jersey Girls, the four 9/11 widows who have been unstinting in their drive to hold the Bush government accountable for its lackadaisicality towards the pre-9/11 warnings, that got us quite exercised a month ago.

It couldn’t have happened to someone more deserving. Kristen Breitweiser, one of the widows in question, wrote a response to the piece. An editor at the Journal’s op shop forwarded it to Rabinobitch, who made some truly pissy comments on it:

... total and complete — not to mention repetitive — nonsense from people given endless media access to repeat the very same stupid charges, suspicions, and the rest...

but this is just an opportunity for these absurd products of the zeitgeist - women clearly in the grip of the delusion that they know something, have some policy, and wisdom not given to the rest of us to know - to grab the spotlight. again. and repeat, again, the same tripe before a national audience.

My thoughts - we don’t publish nonsensical contentions that offer no news, no insight - solely on the grounds that those who feel attacked get a chance to defend their views. For that we have the letters column.

Any doubt now that she deserves to be nicknamed Rabinobitch?

The reason we know, rather than just suspecting, that she’s a condescending, snobbish elitist who clearly hasn’t aged emotionally one day since high school (as opposed to twice the chronological time physically, as you can see from looking at her) is because, in a clear example of divine justice at work, she mistakenly forwarded her comments right back to Breitweiser, who then sent them to Lloyd Grove in his new digs at the Daily News, and that’s where you can read them.

Accidentally sending an email to the wrong person? Happens to people all the time, but never so richly deserved as it was here. Or as revealing.

A finer example of “bitch-slapping” does not exist.

posted by Sully 5/13/2004 02:31:00 PM


Jo Fish finds a no-comment excerpt of his own from Sullivan.

posted by Sully 5/13/2004 01:48:00 PM


John, the Moving to Houston Guy, calls Sullivan on the Boston Globe getting taken.

People can go read the source and realize how out to lunch he is. Not good for the donations!


The implication of course is that the Globe has decided that it will publish fake photos.

Of course, if you read the story Andrew links to you find that the Globe screwed up and wasn’t clear on the source of the photos. You also find that the story accompanying the photos noted that their authenticity couldn’t be verified. (They obviously shouldn’t have run them.) You also find that the ombudsman is responding to complaints with an email that notes that the photos should not have been run, that the checks and balances that prevent these things clearly didn't work, and that a more complete explanation on what happened will appear in the paper soon.

Not a proud moment for the Globe but hardly what Andrew is painting it as. Perhaps Andrew is perceiving his own standards of accuracy and honestly in the work of actual journalists?

As we say, always follow the link.

John then tells Sullivan off over his bashing of the Globe’s parent paper:

Sullivan attributes this to the Times’ evil bias against our benevolent father figure Bush. Of course, Andrew then goes on to quote a passage from the article which contradicts the Bergs’ claims — reported by the Times, obviously in a clever attempt to poison our minds by reporting facts that make it seem like they are not just taking the Bergs’ word, but actually investigating the story! How devious!

Andrew then asserts that “Yes, the family’s understandable anger should be reported. But their anger should not dictate the entire gist of your story.” Well, the story is about the family’s accusations (and is one of many stories about Iraq) so that really is the main point of the story. Andrew himself quotes a passage where the family indicates that Berg may have declined assistance from US forces. And as usual, he links back to the story so that careful readers can go to the source and realize that Andrew has got to be smoking crack to read the story as what he describes it.

Andrew, the Times fired your ass. Let the bitterness go. Move on.

Excellent service, John.

He also takes the time to engage us in a bit of diablog about the sincerity of Sullivan’s response to Abu Ghraib:

I should clarify; I don’t doubt that Sullivan is also distressed by those images. But whatever natural human distress those images cause him, it seems to be trumped by the inconvenience they cause for the President. This makes the way he would like to see the horrible images of Nick Berg’s murder used to make people more comfortable with the prison abuse photos even more awful.

We agree that it is deplorable that even Sullivan is succumbing to the temptation to use the Berg video to recuperate the war. But we were genuinely surprised earlier in the week — even though we were still sort of harsh — that he began to reassess his adoration for Bush at a fundamental level, something not even the FMA made him do.

The real failing there was that Sullivan seemed not to have even considered that Bush, his anti-Clinton, might have character flaws that could have serious implications for his ability to discharge his duties, character flaws his Sunday Times piece seems to have all of a sudden discovered even though he admits they were always in evidence. It is for that we slapped him around.

posted by Sully 5/13/2004 01:16:00 PM


While we, too, did experience an increase in traffic earlier this week, we think from reviewing our referral logs that we can safely attribute most of that to this short post of Roger Ailes’s, which, Sullivan should note, ultimately refers back to his own cogitations on the cost of Abu Ghraib, made before the Berg execution video (about which, as Hesiod tells us, there are some questions as to whether it truly is what it purports to be).

Indeed, judging by his technorati pages at that time (no longer really linkable, alas), Sullivan’s traffic spike came from his self-publicized misgivings about Bush’s capabilities and the future of the war.

Perhaps the Berg video caused some more traffic.

But there’s no way to tell. You see, we just discovered, Sullivan seems to have removed both of the hit counters from the bottom of his page.

Hmm ... wonder why? (Not that he ever publicized them that much to begin with).

UPDATE: Logan Circle Guy has something Sullivan may have missed:

Also today, Andrew is just shocked to discover that lots of people went on the web to watch videos of Nick Berg being beheaded. This proves, he feels, that people are somehow supportive of his take on things — truthfully, his comments are so vague and incoherent that I’m not sure he knows what he’s saying — but some of us think it proves that people are fascinated by the horrible. If Andrew knew how to drive he might have noticed how people slow down to look at grisly accident scenes, too.

posted by Sully 5/13/2004 12:56:00 PM


For Derbyshire, the only problem with abusing, torturing and humiliating prisoners is that it might get out. He’s depraved.

Sullivan from Monday:

There are, indeed, questions. Who took the photos? How did they get out? Why were digital cameras allowed in Abu Ghraib in the first place?

We know we already blogged this a couple of days ago but, it’s worth repeating, since we really don’t think Sullivan asked those questions out of a general concern for operational security.

posted by Sully 5/13/2004 12:52:00 PM

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Jo Fish explains to Sullivan why Josh held Bush accountable.

posted by Sully 5/12/2004 11:36:00 AM


John, the Logan Circle For Now Guy, takes a break from moving to Houston to critique Sullivan’s posts on the execution video:

Here we have two horrifying things. One is the brutal murders and dismemberment of westerners in wartime Iraq. The other is an organized and supposedly disciplined military force, sent there to bring order, abusing prisoners. The two are horrifying in entirely different ways. The former is example of ugly, barbaric violence. The latter is an example of an organization with corruption festering in its ranks, manifesting itself as abuse of power.

When someone insists on showing these two things side by side, they are trying to establish a false equivalence to the two events and images. But they are not equivalent, or even of the same kind, other than the common factor of including physical violence.

Why would someone want to do this? I can think of one reason: to try to excuse the prisoner abuse by implying, in a very backhanded way, that it’s a reasonable way to treat the evil, barbaric prisoners (who were not the ones who commited the atrocities, but oh well, details are pesky).


The larger question: why would Sullivan be trying to excuse the abuse? (And forget the obligatory “of course its awful” - his insistence that we should see pictures of atrocities next to the abuse photos makes it quite clear that he’s lying in order to sound reasonable.) Simple: because it’s a liability for Bush, and Andrew is Bush’s self appointed media whore. He’s a loyal tart, though, so of course he’s going to keep striving for his own triumph of the will.

My contempt for this man grows stronger with every word he writes.

Actually, we give him more credit for being genuinely distressed by the Abu Ghraib images, but we respect John6s opinion.

posted by Sully 5/12/2004 12:39:00 AM


Sullivan devotes his entire Sunday Times of London column this week to expanding upon the promised point — that Bush’s strengths can also be weaknesses. Wow. Such an amazingly important fact human nature, true of everybody ... it says more about Sullivan than Bush that he has stumbled on it only now.

Other than that, we actually don’t disagree with much of it, though we are thankful that Sullivan recalled incidents even from the 2000 campaign that demonstrate Bush’s inability to respond appropriately to grave situations even more decisively than the pre-9/11 faults we cataloged a day or so ago.

posted by Sully 5/12/2004 12:27:00 AM


From the Telegraph story we took note of this little observation:

The Islamists now have an arena for their violent efforts, one that is in the heart of the Muslim world and readily accessible from Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. And having got there, they can be anonymous in the crowd ...

Another point that should have been obvious as all hell before the war. And was.

posted by Sully 5/12/2004 12:23:00 AM


Lost entirely in this debate over whether or not we should see the video or even stills (and the link he provided has now been cut off) is the fact that we could have taken out Zarqawi and his crew before the war, but didn’t because the Bushies didn’t want to undermine their case for a Saddam-al Qaa’idah link (as absurd as it was to suggest that a small pocket of the area of Iraq no longer under Saddam’s control somehow proved the link), as Atrios and Hesiod both remind us.

posted by Sully 5/12/2004 12:14:00 AM

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


World O’ Crap explains to Smalltown Boy just how easy it really is for Glenn Reynolds to do what he does, then pays tribute to Kapitan von Behrbach’s contributions to our war effort and urges him to continue:

But Andrew, we are at war! If you decide to give up the blogging, however will this nation continue the fight against terror? After all, your powerful words have singlehandledly taken out several enemy strongholds, killed half a dozen members of al Queda’s top leadership, and re-opened scores of Iraqi schools, hospitals, and prisons. It’s your DUTY to keep blogging — your President (who is backing that FMA, by the way) is counting on you!

Gotta love it.

posted by Sully 5/11/2004 04:47:00 PM


Jo has a couple of questions for Sully:

If a blog is an on-going conversation, why don’t you have comments? I mean duh, in your case it’s a broadcast, not a full-duplex conversation at all. And two, are your readers paying for column inches or commentary? I guess double posting gives you half the responsibility and all the pleasure. Or you’re blogging stoned again. Nice work if you can get it.

posted by Sully 5/11/2004 04:29:00 PM


Matthew Yglesias, proof that a Harvard education need not impede common sense, tempers Sullivan’s enthusiasm on the Kerry-McCain idea, although he does come down in favor of it:

The idea suffers from two big problems. One is that McCain keeps saying he doesn’t want to do it. The other is that Democrats, much as they may prefer McCain to the rest of what the GOP has an offer, don’t really like him all that much — he is quite conservative on a wide range of issues.

posted by Sully 5/11/2004 04:23:00 PM


But next week, I’m in full media-whore mode.

Amazing! He finally admits it! The Horse R0000LZ from beyond the grave!

What will he think of next? Coming out of the closet as a gay conservative?

Oh, wait ...

posted by Sully 5/11/2004 04:20:00 PM

Monday, May 10, 2004


At this point, the reason for blogging has gotten a little lost. And then I realize we are at war. And I realize my own pathetic part in it is trying to think about it, fight it with words, and that this blog is a small part of that wider effort.

posted by Sully 5/10/2004 11:34:00 PM


There are, indeed, questions. Who took the photos? How did they get out? Why were digital cameras allowed in Abu Ghraib in the first place? We will, I suppose, find out.

As usual, he’s got his priorities straight. How dare the exhibitionism of a couple of reserve MPs from Appalachia (his servants, remember?) ruin his untempered adulation for George W. Bush? The nerve of the peons ...

posted by Sully 5/10/2004 11:20:00 PM


Amid all this, Sullivan may well be forgiven, at this point, for not noticing that Shirin Ehbadi, the Iranian lawyer whom he praised for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for the rights of Muslim women, has called on the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq.

(Link via Hesiod).

posted by Sully 5/10/2004 12:46:00 PM


While this Times story about the zest for alcohol displayed by Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is probably worth publishing on its own merits (the Brazilian government, naturally, vehemently disagrees), one has to wonder if the Times is trying to tell Americans something as well.

posted by Sully 5/10/2004 12:39:00 PM


We suppose we should give Sullivan some credit for his lengthy and troubled examination of the state of the Iraq war, and his examination of his support for it and where it stands now. And we do, but only relative to his fellow righties, who are mostly in full denial mode, as ably documented on too many other blogs to link to (If you must, TBogg takes a grab sample of Freepers, Roger Ailes shows you how all their spin points are contradicted by the evidence, and Quiddity Quack shares the predictably ridiculous apologetics of the New York Post and its “readers.” That’s all we’ve looked at so far this a.m.

And while it’s nice to see him admit mistakes, all the same, Sullivan hasn’t, in our opinion, fully accounted for his own intellectual culpability in this. One of his posts deserves some brief fisking:

The one anti-war argument that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple one.

Excuse us? Did you take any antiwar arguments seriously? Not that we seem to remember (And by “seriously,” we do not mean “admitted it was a legitimate concern but gave a facile, sound-bite answer to at the time.”)

It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it out effectively. I dismissed this as facile Bush-bashing at the time.

Because you dismissed everything as facile Bush-bashing at that time. And because you found things like ridiculously anti-American and antisemitic posters carried at foreign rallies to be easier straw men than many of the arguments raised by more thoughtful people, many of which predicted something like what has unfolded. Because you needed to feel good about yourself and probably, deep down inside, recognized that these claims had validity.

I was wrong. I sensed the hubris of this administration after the fall of Baghdad, but I didn’t sense how they would grotesquely under-man the post-war occupation, bungle the maintenance of security, short-change an absolutely vital mission, dismiss constructive criticism, ignore even their allies (like the Brits), and fail to shift swiftly enough when events span out of control.

Who needs “sensing”? You can easily look at the historical record. Everything that would give an indicator as to how a Bush Administration would mishandle the prolonged occupation and ostensible democratization of a non-Western country that had never truly experienced it was present in black and white in the months not only before the invasion, but before 9/11 as well.

Reflect on how the administration covered up the presence of civilians with connections to high-level Republican donors on the USS Greenvile when that hit the Japanese school boat ... and no longer wonder about why private security contractors had the run of Abu Ghraib.

Reflect on how frantically the Bush team spun the capture of the downed U.S. spy plane by the Chinese, refusing to call the crew “hostages” even when they so obviously were ... and you could see that this administration was not one that could readily see the situation as it was.

And most importantly reflect on how the insulting and punitive treatment of Senator Jim Jeffords, not inviting him to a ceremony at the White House honoring a schoolchild from his own state, triggered his disaffection from the Republican Party and the transfer of Senate power to Democrats for almost a year ... can that kind of administration be expected to treat allies with any more care and respect?

No, Sullivan, the Force does you no good here. Not when there’s an objective reality you can either see or choose to ignore.

“Light at the end of the tunnel” is most assuredly not a phrase that applies to this administration. No, if any image of a tunnel comes to mind, it is Wile E. Coyote running full force after the Roadrunner into a tunnel he himself painted on the cliffside, and smacking into it.

And that does not let its apologists off the hook, either.

Jo Fish is even harsher than we are:

I hate posting Sullivan and apologize for this, but the dynamic (I see, anyhow) is that Andrew is beginning a process of arguing against himself with only himself in the mirror. Perhaps other, more skilled in the arts and sciences of the mind can enlighten me here, becaue it sure is scary.

George Cerny is even more pungent.


Reactions from around the blogosphere.

Unfogged, crediting Sullivan with “a moment of clarity”:

I kept telling the people who thought I was nuts to support the war that simple self-interest dictated that the administration, having wagered so much on Iraq, would do it right. Holy shit, was I wrong.

I do hope that someday an astute historian will be able to explain, with a bit more specificity than “they were deluded,” or “they thought we’d be greeted as liberators,” just how a group of smart (if callous and short-sighted) people could get something so very wrong, when there were people everywhere telling them exactly what the potential problems were.

The right-wingers at Ace of Spades HQ start a Kaus-like watch of their own, brought to you by the em dash:

We correctly deemed Sullivan to have “flipped” politically months ago. We now begin the Sullivan Kerry-Endorsement Watch. He's laid the predicate — or pretext — for the endorsement; he’s now laid down the law — Sullivan Law! — that Bush has one more chance to solve all of the world’s problems. In a month or two, he will deem Bush to have failed — failed even when Sullivan was generous enough to give him one last chance — and he will officially endorse Kerry.

This is actually worth it for an example of the sort of right-wing backtracking they often attribute to the left in one of the comments, the sort of thing Sullivan is defining himself against:

As best as I can tell, the whole prisoner abuse thing involves only a few obviously unprofessional soldiers. I don’t see why he and so many others have blown it out of proportion. Even most of the Iraqis don’t seem too concerned about it. As for the “we needed more troops” argument, he fails to acknowledge we don’t have them. You can’t use what you don’t have. How Sullivan thinks a waffler like Kerry will be able to magically come up with troops is beyond me. I’m sure the administration counted on help from the allies in this regard, but we have now seen we have few, if any, real allies. I don’t know what people like Sullivan expected post war. An orderly country doesn’t simply reappear overnight. Post WW II conquered countries were governed under marshall [sic] law for an extended period of years. It’s been a year in Iraq, which has not experienced democracy for decades. In my humble opinion the administration has not been unwilling to try new approaches when things aren’t working. I give them credit for that. How do you plan in advance for everything when you take over a country, especially when the last time you accomplished it was 60 years ago? No one could possibly anticipate all the contingencies. Sullivan has always been a liberal at heart so his endorsement of Kerry would not surprise me. I haven’t respected Sullivan’s opinions or arguments for quite some time now.

Obviously this person cares more about dissing Sully than anything else, for how else could you take several points of the antiwar argument and use them in defense of the administration? “We didn’t have enough troops, so we had to use what we have” ... uh, if you don’t have enough gasoline to get to Pasadena and there are no open gas stations between you and Pasadena, it’s not the retail-gasoline industry’s fault that you’re pushing yourself there.

Then again, it’s interesting when conservative critics of Sullivan start using the same rhetoric as liberal ones.

I never understood why people read Sullivan anyway. He writes at a level I would refer to as “fan-boy” and he’s always behind the curve on most stories. Who needs him?

Rising Hegemon agrees with commentators at Democratic Veteran (see above link) that Sullivan will inevitably find a way to rationalize voting for Bush in November (although whether that will save him, if it even could, with the commentators above, is highly doubtful since he has provided Bush opponents with a whole election cycle’s worth of “Even the Conservative Andrew Sullivan Says ...” material).

Ted Barlow likens this to a famous moment in the history of rock (although that puts Sullivan among “the crowd you’re in with,” in other words on the losing side of history, so to speak.Is that really where you want to go with this, Ted?).

More, if any are significant, as they come (While we posted this, there were two new updates to the tracking page.

posted by Sully 5/10/2004 10:27:00 AM

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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

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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!