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

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


Saturday, May 22, 2004


As we expected he would, Sullivan responded at some length to Cole’s lengthy criticism of him (noted below). It doubtless ruined his weekend.

We are actually grateful, since this gives us a chance that we have’t had in a while to point up Sullivan’s favorite tactic in these instances of responding to relatively minor points made against him as if they were the major ones, leaving the real blows unavenged.

Here, actually, what he engages in is more of a misdirection ploy — responding to arguments that weren’t really made, but that play towards his personal prejudices.

He gets off to a nice start here, with an ad hominem bill-of-attainder sort of thing where he says, yes, Juan has a great blog but he hates Bush so I don’t trust him, and you shouldn’t either.

Well, Sullivan hates Clinton so you shouldn’t trust him either.

Then he responds to Cole’s defense of Howell Raines with “I would think by now that the question of Raines' abuse of the NYT is largely settled.”

That wasn’t the question. Cole focuses on what Raines and the Times were actually writing and saying at the time, and how it seems in light of what actually transpired:

But in fact, Bush administration officials consistently low-balled the American public about the cost. It was to be $60 billion. Iraq's oil would pay for reconstruction. There would be no long-term impact on oil prices. Raines was right and the Bush administration officials were wrong. Sullivan here calls the prediction that the war would have a big impact on the US economy an "inflammatory non-story" (which by the way is a meaningless phrase and therefore bad writing. A non-story cannot be inflammatory. What he presumably means is that Raines ran inflammatory stories about the economic impact that were inaccurate. But they almost certainly underestimated the economic impact of the Iraq war, the full dimensions of which we can now only begin to guess.)


Sullivan here castigates Raines for not swallowing the crock of shit that Saddam had an imminent nuclear weapons capacity. No serious analyst thought Iraq had an imminent such capacity. At this point in time, Ambassador Joe Wilson had already demonstrated to the CIA and Cheney that Iraq had not bought yellowcake uranium from Niger. The defectors' tales were fairy tales. Sullivan not only swallowed this crock whole, he licked his lips, asked for more, and beat up on Raines for not wanting any.

The Sage of South Goodstone/East Grimstead responds to these rather wanly.

First, re the economy, he talks about how he was right and war spending has “really juiced” the economy, pointing to job-growth rates.

What should be noted here? That Sullivan, normally fastidious about providing some sort of link to this sort of statistic, provides none whatsoever to justify his assertion that war spending has caused job growth (leaving aside questions about whether that growth is real in the first place). Where is Brad Delong when you really need him?

Secondly, he somehow twists an argument about the Bushies’ case for war into an argument about its motives:

Then he argues that paranoia and skepticism about the Bush administration's motives, as exemplified by Raiunes, were rational. I beg to differ. I still see no evidence that the Bush administration's motives were insincere. You can criticize them, as I have, for all sorts of things. But the insistence of the far left that it is an administration of deliberate lies and deception seems to me overblown and shrill.

But note how Cole opened the door (as lawyers would say):

Not content to question Raines's journalistic judgment, Sullivan now goes for the jugular of character. What is the explanation for Raines's puzzling reticence about the case for an Iraq war? Why isn’t he buying the stories of a menacing Saddam, sitting atop massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and within a year or two of having a nuke, plotting to strike the United States? Is it possible that Raines just can’t see reliable sources for such tales, corroborated by other, unconnected reliable sources? Is it possible that there is an honest difference of opinion here? No, Raines must be a megalomaniac, drunk on power.

Funny. Cole is describing Raines as expressing skepticism about the evidence for war, and notes correctly that Sullivan is the one ascribing this to a particular characterization of Raines’ actions that he can deduce a motive from. So Sullivan responds by turning this around and suggesting Cole is thus somehow defending Raines’ motives, rather than questioning Sullivan’s characterization of them.

Sullivan then pulls a perfect Coulter, turning aside the question of Brent Scowcroft’s skepticism with a snarky remark to the effect of, well, if I had kept Saddam in power, I might be a little leery of a war to depose him too. Never mind, of course, that Cole alludes to plenty of others from the first Bush administration, too, who were equally reluctant to start the current hostilities.

In fact, had history turned out a little differently, that might have also included Dick Cheney:

Q: Did you feel you'd betrayed the Shi'a? The President had asked people to rise up.

Cheney: No I didn’t have that feeling.


I think in terms of the expectation of the time, as I say there was the view ... belief on the part of many of the experts and others in the region that if you administer a decisive defeat to his military forces that he will not be able to survive politically.

Then Sullivan gets a little disingenuous.

Cole then says my description of some military brass as “gun-shy” implies I am impugning their courage. Please. I’m merely describing the U.S. military's long-held aversion to difficult conflicts.

Which is like saying you’re merely describing a butcher’s long-held aversion to the sight of blood, and not in the process impugning their ability to do his job.

His big bang at the end:

But he’s still vicious with regard to Wolfowitz. “Crowing” about the liberation of an entire sub-population? How about “celebrating”? And does Cole honestly believe that the Shiites now freed from Saddam haven6t really been saved? Notice also what Cole doesn’t take back: his vilest assertion that Wolfowitz, a decent and honorable man, is deliberately killing Shiites for the same reasons as Saddam Hussein. Does Cole really believe that Wolfowitz wants to commit genocide to entrench his own vile police state?

Obviously, this is all about protecting Paul Wolfowitz’s ego. Certainly Cole was not implying that Wolfowitz is some sort of genocidal fascist. That’s not how we read it, and Sullivan knows that most people won’t make that leap either. But because it’s made syntactically possible, Sullivan can play his little game here of making Wolfie, a man who thinks there have been less combat deaths in Iraq than there actually have been, look injured.

Wolfowitz’s personality is not the issue here. The man has presided over criminal recklessness at the very least.

Last but hardly least, recall that, as Cole said in the post that prompted this in the first place:

I did not “compare Wolfowitz to Saddam.” I compared the killing of dozens of Marsh Arab fighters in Kut and Amara by the US Department of Defense to the killing of dozens of Marsh Arab fighters by Saddam. I said that Muqtada has maneuvered the US into looking to the Marsh Arabs as though it is behaving like Saddam.

So Cole has his own interpretation of a statement made my Mickey Kaus in private email to him that, he says, points out it’s about how the U.S.’s actions are perceived by Iraqis, not how Paul Wolfowitz feels about things said about him, that matters.

posted by Sully 5/22/2004 11:11:00 PM

Friday, May 21, 2004


Remember Sullivan’s famous lather when it was revealed that Paul Krugman, regularly bashing Enron at that time (early 2002) had once taken ... $25,000 of Enron money? And remember more recently when it turned out that lame-ass libertarian website TechCentralStation was really an “op shop,” an arm of a high-powered DC corporate lobbying firm designed to create apparently-independent opinion supporting whatever its corporate clients wanted to push at that time? And how Sullivan sneered at the Washington Monthly’s exposé of the latter fact?

Well, now from <>TAPped we learn that the St. Louis Post Dispatch had to apologize to its readers when it ran a column by James K. Glassman bashing that documentary Super Size Me, in which we see the dreadful consequences of eating at McDonald's for a month and not exercising. It failed to pick up on the connections between TCS and DCI ... and more importantly that McDonald’s funds TCS, to the point of setting up an entire subsection of the TCS site devoted to trashing the film.

Think Sullivan will condemn this? Given his history with the drug industry, we think not.

posted by Sully 5/21/2004 05:00:00 PM


Nick Confessore atTAPped reports on how conservatives smeared The Boston Globe by creating the completely false and misleading impression the paper had broken the now-discredited abuse story photos itself rather than merely reporting on a press conference as it actually did.

Sully isn’t among those named, but he passed it on freely, and should rightly correct himself. But don’t stay up waiting for it.

posted by Sully 5/21/2004 04:51:00 PM


George Cerny on Sullivan’s blogger fatigue and apparent cure.

posted by Sully 5/21/2004 04:47:00 PM

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Courtesy of Things You Don’t Say In Polite Company, we found this.

posted by Sully 5/20/2004 11:16:00 PM


Without directly mentioning Sullivan, of course:

I did not “compare Wolfowitz to Saddam.” I compared the killing of dozens of Marsh Arab fighters in Kut and Amara by the US Department of Defense to the killing of dozens of Marsh Arab fighters by Saddam. I said that Muqtada has maneuvered the US into looking to the Marsh Arabs as though it is behaving like Saddam.

(Emphasis in original)

UPDATE: Cole himself takes a mighty chunk of Sullivan’s hide, fisking a prewar column of his. Some highlights:

Whenever a writer replies to an argument with an attack on his opponent’s character, calling him “immoral” or “unscrupulous” or “full of pride,” you are in the presence of propaganda.


Powell (who was later bamboozled into presenting false intelligence to the UN) had actually fought in a war. I suspect Sullivan has not, nor has he in all likelihood even lived in a war zone for any extended period of time. He had no standing to launch a vicious attack on the officer corps of the United States Army and Marines, accusing them of cowardice (I take it that is the meaning of “gun-shy.”)


Sullivan attacked me on his weblog Thursday as having lost all “moral compass” because I dared to point out that the US Department of Defense and its allies are now killing Marsh Arabs around Kut, Amara and Majar al-Kabir--the very Marsh Arabs Mr. Wolfowitz said he was invading Iraq to protect from Saddam, who also used to kill them. In those days they were called the Iraqi Hizbullah. Many of them now are allied with Muqtada al-Sadr. There is an enormous difference in scale between what Saddam did to them and what the Coalition has done since the beginning of April. But it is early days, after all. And in issues of ethics and hypocrisy, scale is less important than principle.

I take it as a compliment that the Right is so afraid of this observation (the recent fate of the Marsh Arabs is not being discussed anyplace but the much-maligned Guardian) that they feel it necessary to resort to character assassination (“unreliable,” “no moral compass”) in my regard, in hopes of marginalizing me quick before the observation gains traction.

“Saving” the Iraqi Shiites was maybe the last rationale for their war that hadn’t been discredited. Since April 2 they haven’t been saving them any more. They have been killing them.

(Thanks Atrios)

And Jo Fish chirps up:

It’s a good thing Sullivan doesn’t handicap the ponys, he never seems to get it right. Why, just ask ... Bill Clinton, another Sullivan outrage target.


My timeline may be off by a few weeks; but by June 30th Sullivan will make up a new award and give it to his hero ... just a guess.

posted by Sully 5/20/2004 11:09:00 PM


Via first World O’ Crap and then Wonkette, we learn of a story Sullivan probably isn’t going to cover

(Is that the longest time between using that last link we’ve ever gone? Probably)

posted by Sully 5/20/2004 04:18:00 PM


I’ll do my best to stay on the case of what really happened.

Yeah, as if only The Blog Queen can do this.

(As an aside, we’ll repeat our comments from over at Counterspin Central: is it really the best thing to do for America’s international image at this point to compete in using very real tragedies like this as fodder for too-cute pop-culture references? “Forty Funerals and a Wedding”? Yuck, not yuk. As penance, go translate the poem on this page into Arabic.)

posted by Sully 5/20/2004 03:58:00 PM


Just a reminder of how anomalous America’s cheap, cheap gas is.

And just a reminder that it has little direct effect on your life, beacuse you don’t drive.

posted by Sully 5/20/2004 03:56:00 PM


Garance Franke-Ruta at TAPped has been keeping a close watch on conservative disgruntlement with Bush, and finds Smalltown Boy’s entry in that derby to be of particular interest.

Couldn’t have put it better myself. The peculiar thing about this moment, which finds many reasonable Republicans despairing over their leader and the direction of their party, is that Sullivan and his correspondents continue to refuse to consider Kerry a viable alternative.

posted by Sully 5/20/2004 01:16:00 AM

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


What Bush doesn’t seem to understand is that in any war, people need to be reminded constantly of what is going on, what is at stake, what our immediate, medium-term and ultimate objectives are.

Maybe there's some truth to this. Certainly Churchill did it so much better than Bush, certainly Capra made the Why We Fight series for a reason.

But beneath it we can’t help but see a sneering Straussian contempt for the people. That Bush has not stooped to constantly hectoring and nagging the populace the way Sullivan does on his blog may be one of his very few virtues.

posted by Sully 5/19/2004 12:27:00 PM


It seems pretty obvious to me that the insurgency in Iraq is composed of Sunni dead-enders and Shiite radicals, but also an array of enterprising terrorists, as well as Iranian-backed thugs and trouble-makers.

Well, then, Andrew, why don’t you just quit this blog thing and go work as an intelligence analyst? You’d have to give up appearing on TV for a while, as well as those lecture gigs, and the summers in P-Town are out of the question, but although you’d make a lot less money we’re sure it would pay huge dividends for the war you say is so vital to the future of civilization.

Anyway, it’s so typical of Sullivan to interpret the current morass in ways that justify the whole enterprise to begin with. Abdullah may not be fired with enthusiasm for Arab democracy, true, but he also doesn’t want the chaos Jordan would face from prolonged instability and unrest in its major trading partner (unless, of course, this is intended by the neocons because they think it will force Jordan to become more reliant on Israel. Hmmm ...). Iran’s mullahs are no friends to democracy, either — but maybe they would tolerate a democratic Iraq if it weren’t also an American client state.

Then we get a return of the “war without end” meme, in a way.

And all of that points to one simple conclusion: this war is just beginning.

If a war cannot end, as Sullivan seems to be comfortable insisting this one cannot, then how can it have a beginning, either? This rhetoric is but the latest nefarious neocon ploy to get us to accept the unacceptable as the normal state of things.

Talk about “defining deviancy down”!

posted by Sully 5/19/2004 12:12:00 PM

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


They like their gays, as Homer did: easily characterized as left-wing and flaming. Oh well.

Yeah, he probably means Homer Simpson. But not everyone gets it right away.

UPDATE: Roger Ailes finds Sullivan didn’t even get the quote right.

posted by Sully 5/18/2004 12:26:00 AM

Monday, May 17, 2004


Jo Fish comments on Sullivan’s op-ed:

He seems to forget that the christo-fascists (even if they have gay friends) would rather die than admit gays are human. The Catholic Church, Sullivans Religious Opiate of ‘Choice,’ an institution famous for coming down on the wrong side of many issues with a sledge hammer, has been whispering sweet little anti-Gay missives in the ears of many politicians and adherants for years. Our gay-basher in Chief is proposing amending our constitution to ensure that these new unions are no more than a footnote in our history.

How can someone purportedly so smart be so dumb?

Steve Brady also has his thoughts.

posted by Sully 5/17/2004 02:04:00 PM


“Media Ho”

posted by Sully 5/17/2004 02:02:00 PM


As much credit as Sullivan may deserve for helping to bring today about, we do wonder why he stuck to a book-tour schedule that has him well outside of Massachusetts this morning. Y’know, wouldn’t it be kind of neat to give your blog readers a first-person report from one of the first legal gay weddings? Isn’t there at least one gay/lesbian couple out there that either shares or doesn’t mind Sullivan’s other politics to invite him to their wedding?

Oh ... wait a minute ... maybe we just answered our own question.

UPDATE: OK. So he at least linked to someone describing it in the first person. But it would be helpful if the link he gave worked.

Here, courtesy of Atrios, is one that does. And another.

posted by Sully 5/17/2004 01:56:00 PM

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Blogging the Blog Queen


“appl[ying] a magnifying glass to Andrew Sullivan’s performing-flea antics” – James Wolcott, Vanity Fair, April 2004.

Passionate rebuttal to Andrew Sullivan's frequent rants.

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More blogs about Andrew Sullivan.

And for satire:

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Our inspiration:

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The small village of bloggers who try to keep Sullivan honest (among other things):


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Other blogs of interest:



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No More Mister Nice Blog

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are you effin’ kidding me?

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Trust me, you have no idea how much I hate Bush.

Beautiful Atrocities




Also worth checking out


The Cursor

Journal of American Politics

The George Bush AWOL Project

The Daily Kos



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!