Friday, May 28, 2004
A REALLY, REALLY GREAT WAR:
George Cerny has a nice long post starting from Sullivan’s frequent use of emails from soldiers and quotes from pro-occupation Iraqi bloggers, then the general preference by the 101st Fighting Keyboarders for primary sources that tell them what they want to hear (and, by extension, the preference by our side for emails from soldiers and blog posts that confirm our expectations, to be fair) and thence to the general problems of first-person narrative from combat zones, to the poetry of World War I, and finally back to a great punchline at Kapitan von Behrbach’s expense.
posted by Sully 5/28/2004 11:33:00 AM
NYAAH NYAH NYAAH NYAH NYAAAAAH NYAH ... NANNY NANNY BOO BOO ... TOL’JA SO:
We had every intention of letting Sullivan continue to talk to Ralph on the big white phone in peace, but we couldn’t resist quoting this excerpt from The Krugster’s column today:
Not long ago, many commentators who are now caustic Bush critics seemed desperate to differentiate themselves from “irrational Bush haters” who were neither haters nor irrational — and whose critiques look pretty mild in the light of recent revelations.
And some journalists just couldn’t bring themselves to believe that the president of the United States was being dishonest about such grave matters.
Finally, let’s not overlook the role of intimidation. After 9/11, if you were thinking of saying anything negative about the president, you had to be prepared for an avalanche of hate mail. You had to expect right-wing pundits and publications to do all they could to ruin your reputation, and you had to worry about being denied access to the sort of insider information that is the basis of many journalistic careers.
posted by Sully 5/28/2004 11:24:00 AM
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
THERE’S ABUSE AND THEN THERE’S ABUSE:
Besides pointing out that we couldn’t find the quoted matter in the AP story (perhaps it has been superseded, as they say in the biz — here’s one we found), and the question of whether anyone actually took pictures of these floggings (perhaps some stills from The Passion of the Christ would do), there’s the question of the fact that, cruel as these punishments are, these guys are at least being punished for some legally justifiable reason — violating the shaari‘ah ban on alcohol. Not that we necessarily agree with that, but it is a law.
The prisoners at Abu Ghraib, on the other hand, were frequently there for dubious reasons with only the most tenuous connection to any legitimate effort to suppress the insurgency, and were made to suffer a variety of indignities for no other reason than that Donald Rumsfeld wanted results!
It also might be interesting to note this from the article:
Unlike other Iraqi cities, Fallujah has never allowed liquor stores.
Logan Circle Guy is on this one too:
I actually have trouble believing Andrew is so stupid that he can’t make the distinction between something done by members of the US military and things done by the citizens — or government, even — of another country, and why we as Americans might react differently to seeing our own armed forces abusing prisoners to any other awful thing happening somewhere in the world.
Instead Andrew continues with his endless parade of examples that make no sense. “Why didn't they write about this? and this? and this?” Because it's different. If Sullivan can’t figure that out on his own, he’s hopeless. More likely he knows it but won’t let it get in the way of some good propaganda. What a putz.
posted by Sully 5/26/2004 06:02:00 PM
We’ve been criticized a little in our email for agreeing with a righty blogger that Sullivan’s insistence that the entire activist world share whatever happens to be his concern at the moment at the price of him condemning them for hypocrisy. While he’s sometimes got a point, even if you agree with him it’s not hard to find this annoying.
His latest flogging of The Gay Establishment for not constantly condemning homophobic outbursts by Muslim imams is a case in point. He’s been wrong before when saying that this ignored (link later). It also could have something to do with the fact that there is a gay Muslim group that is probably best situated to deal with these issues.
But he should also look at the other side of his frequently-flaunted duality: some conservatives seem just fine with the homophobic aspect of Islamism:
Islam should be a religion very tolerant of homosexuality. After all, Mohammed commands everyone to get down on their knees and stick their bottoms in the air several times a day.
ALL (REAL) RELIGIONS CONDEMN BOB AND NEAL trading fecal matter orally
Gays are always trying to twist established religions to fit their “lifestyle,” instead of adhering to the tenets of a particular faith. They want the benefits of everything, without responsibility, discipline, or sacrifice.
I also think gay Muslims, gay Catholics, gay Jews, gay whatever, are forming these “fifth column” groups within their own religions not to ensure “acceptance” of gays within those religions but to actively destroy their religions, the same way gay activists realize that their efforts to “sodomize” the Boy Scouts will destroy that organization.
And so forth. It’s lame to use a Free Republic thread to make this point, but this one dates to before 9/11 and, as always, points up Sullivan’s complete and utter failure to eradicate homophobia among the right by working out and bashing lefties as “objectively pro-Saddam.”
UPDATE: OK, here’s the Michelangelo Signorile column that responds to this issue:
Once again smearing the gay left, he wrote that, “It’s still almost taboo for gay people to publicly criticize Islamic hostility to homosexuals.”
Where the hell has he been? Sleeping in his hammock up in Provincetown? The only “taboo” that I’m aware of is Sullivan’s and other gay conservatives’ “taboo” against writing much at all about how our supposed Middle East allies — the ones propped up by the Bush administration--torture and decapitate known homosexuals in the name of Islam! Many of us have in fact been writing about that sort of “Islamic hostility” and discussing it for years now, and certainly post-9/11, thank you very much.
Gay and lesbian Muslims and Arabs themselves have often led the charge in highlighting homophobia within Islam. In recent years, gay groups have focused on Islamic fundamentalist regimes, and so has much of the gay press, covering during the past year and half, for example, the trials of the “Cairo 52,” men who’ve been imprisoned in Egypt for allegedly homosexual acts. I certainly don’t remember Sullivan writing about that case, nor do I remember him discussing at length Saudi Arabia’s beheadings of alleged homosexuals, nor Pakistan’s brutal treatment of both gays and lesbians.
Sullivan did, however, make sure to focus on how terrible the Taliban was to gay people, and I’m sure he’ll tell us how terrible Saddam Hussein is too. From many gay conservatives, we only seem to hear about how the Bush administration’s enemies treat gays. Rarely do we hear from them about how our supposed “friends” treat homosexuals ...
And here’s a pre-9/11 Advocate article by Signorile on the subject.
posted by Sully 5/26/2004 03:08:00 PM
“QUIET AND BORING”:
George Cerny has the obvious retort to the latest text Sullivan has represented as an email supporting his point of view (oh, sorry, a summary of that email).
posted by Sully 5/26/2004 02:51:00 PM
A few days back Sully’s “Quote of the Day” came from one of the pro-occupation Iraqi bloggers, noting that a U.S. withdrawal from Somalia hasn’t left that country any better, and thus implying that Iraq wouldn’t magically improve if the U.S left, either.
Fine, fine. A legitimate point of argument. But something about it stuck in our minds, and it finally came to our minds what it was today.
Somalia was a basket case before the U.S. intervened (and not to the extent that it did in Iraq, either — another point to make in response). It had long since ceased having an effective, functional central government and had fallen into chaos as rival warlords vied for control. The limited U.S. presence in that country was not intended to nation-build so much as it was to stabilize famine relief efforts until the U.N. could come in, the first Bush administration having misled the incoming Clintonites as to when that would effectively take place (as documented by Richard Clarke in his book). Somalia had all the other failings that go along with that as well, such as a dilapidated infrastructure.
Iraq, on the other hand, had a functioning central government over two-thirds of the country (if decidedly undemocratic and tyrannical, as we say mainly to preclude righties from saying we liked the Ba‘athists, as if the fact of Saddam’s brutality weren’t well-known enough that it had be constantly restated). Saddam jailed and executed thousands, but kept the lights on and the trains running. The capacity to do that has been damaged, and although repair efforts are retarded by the U.S. desire to displace foreign suppliers of equipment, a new central government could easily legitimize itself (outside of being democratic, alas) by doing the same thing.
In short, there is no way to compare the real U.S. departure from Somalia with a hypothetical exit from Iraq in any way but the most superficial.
posted by Sully 5/26/2004 02:35:00 PM
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING AGNEW:
Jo Fish on Sullivan’s evocation of Nixon’s Number Two:
Ideas not Plans are a good way to start, and General Zinni has got some great ones. The 1600 Crew unfortunately only sees what it wants to and so does Sullivan. He’s Agnew writ large ... just 35 years or so too late.
posted by Sully 5/26/2004 09:54:00 AM
BLOGROLL COMINGS AND GOINGS:
We usually don’t make a lot of hay when we make these changes, but you may notice we made some significant ones today, and these bear explanation.
In are a couple of newer blogs we’ve linked to and have reciprocated: Steve Brady’s Whatever and Approximately Perfect.
We've also grouped some of the blogs that have been immensely helpful in keeping an eye on Smalltown Boy in a separate category to acknowledge their service.
We've added David Brock’s splendid new Media Matters.
In the outs category, the long-dead InstaPunditWatch has been replaced by a scrappier, more determined player, InstaWatch, who shows every sign of sticking around.
The demise of Media Whores Online has meant that MWO Watch Watch Watch Watch no longer has a raison d’être, so it’s a floater. Ditto with Charen Watch, whose creator decided to give it up a month ago.
posted by Sully 5/26/2004 12:50:00 AM
REMEMBER, THE ENEMY HAS A VOTE ON YOUR WAR PLAN:
Do I wish the original war had been bloodier so that the real battle with Saddam's henchmen could have been joined all at once rather than over a long year of low-level conflict?
Would it have, in any event?
Pop quiz: you are a dictator of a pissant Third World nation, hemmed in by sanctions and the results of several wars you fought a decade or so ago. The United States has decided you have to go and has massed thousands of ground forces in a nearby nation, and then begins to march on your capital city.
Knowing that they have superior forces to yours, what do you do? What do you do?
Answer: Definitely not a Berlin-style last stand. That would put a hurtin’ on Uncle Sam but you’d lose everyone and everything you’d need to try to mount a comeback.
Instead, you overcome by yielding. Why let your best assets get destroyed? Don’t offer the Americans the mother of all battles as a climax (not when you know they’ve been closely studying how the Israelis have learned to offset natural advantages of insurgents in urban combat in the Middle East).
This may not have been the intentional plan of, say, the whole Iraqi army. But certainly some had to be thinking that way, and the mishandling of the occupation has given them a lot more cards to play than they could have ever hoped for.
The real issue, of course, is that the neocons didn’t let anyone get anywhere near the planning table who could or would have pointed this possibility out ... and perhaps developed a contingency plan, like, say, don’t lay off the entire Iraqi Army (especially at the behest of people with large private militias of their own at their disposal).
posted by Sully 5/26/2004 12:40:00 AM
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
PERISH THE THOUGHT!:
That either implies, I guess, that Josh is preaching more to the choir than I do and is more ideologically homogeneous in his views — or it means that liberals are more open-minded and read people with whom they might often disagree.
You don’t suppose?
posted by Sully 5/25/2004 12:14:00 PM
SEVEN MORE STEPS NEEDED:
We were unable to figure out when, exactly, Bush’s latest speech was supposed to be on and who was airing it, so we didn’t watch it.
So, other than noting his latest bit of enabling Bush’s bad habits, we have nothing to say:
He doesn6t want to concede errors, because, in this polarized climate, the opposition will seize on them for their own narrow purposes.
Bush doesn’t want to concede errors because he never has (except letting Sammy Sosa be traded, and the obvious retort would be that he probably thought the Rangers' management were talking about his Sammy Sosa card). He has been protected meticulously, until now, from the consequences of his actions. Quite a few Texas cops let him go when they realized who his dad was. Daddy (doubtless at Babs’ behest) fixed things with the Guard so that he wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam for getting drunk and blowing off duty in Alabama. Arbusto, Spectrum 7 and Harken were all bailed out by rich friends of his family. The Rangers got a sweetheart deal. The Court took care of his campaigning mistakes (the popular vote tells the real story there).
When you enable someone into his fifties, you can’t suddenly expect him to grow up just because you hand him the most important job in the world.
Anyway, however, others did watch the speech, and read Sullivan’s response, and they have things to say. Atrios is probably the pithiest, TBogg gets some in:
I also liked the way the president unapologetically linked what we are doing in Iraq with the broader war on terror.
Yeah. Because he’s never ever mentioned that before in any of his stump speeches, press conferences, commencement addresses, interviews, asides, or in the midst of telling a dead baby joke to Dick Cheney. So other than those, it was most refreshing...
and naturally Jo Fish goes off:
It’s worth a read to try and decipher whether this was a reproduction of a Rovian Blast-Fax or the Original Version. All the bad things that happened in Iraq are not the fault of anyone in the 1600 Crew. The war was entirely justified because well, Saddam Bad, America Good. Fighting the Ba‘athists was like premature ejaculation; the end came too fast, and now we’re getting burned by the “afterglow.” The lack of Post-war planning was not the fault of the 1600 Crew. And the Media want the whole charade to fail, because they want the 1600 Crew occupation of DC and America to end (evidence to the contrary notwithstanding). Saddam, well, he might have done business with Al-Qaeda, because Sully thinks that it might have happened, completely disregarding the fact that Saddam brooked no rivals in or out of Iraq for his own imperial intentions in mid-east politics.
posted by Sully 5/25/2004 11:47:00 AM
Monday, May 24, 2004
TIME TO RENAME THE AWARD:
Steve Mussina finds the real problem with the Sontag Times Magazine piece — it’s far too much like the righties who put blame for this on their particular cultural bêtes noires:
... [S]ome of what she says is all but indistinguishable from blame-shifting nonsense uttered by Rush Limbaugh, Charles Colson, and others on the right.
These abuses happened because people who have far more power than the MPs wanted them to happen.
Good reading. Our thoughtful post of the day.
posted by Sully 5/24/2004 11:12:00 PM
LET’S DO THE TIMEWARP AGAIN ...:
What the hell? Sullivan’s latest post is timestamped 4:49 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time ... yet as we type this it’s just barely 3 p.m. EDT.
We guess that can be explained by his failure to set his clock ahead for Daylight Time ... which only happened nearly two months ago.
But still, for all the money he raises (or used to raise) you’d think he could at least be bothered to set his computer clock accurately.
And, to the post itself, Alterman’s book came out well over a year ago ... you’d think he could give it a rest.
Oh, also, we clicked on the link, and perhaps Sullivan should also have shared the tidbit in which reporters were asked which news organization evinced the most obvious bias:
When the question of which news organizations actually tilted left or right, there was one clear candidate: Fox News. Fully 69% of national journalists, and 42% of those at the local level, called Fox News “especially conservative.” Next up was The New York Times, which about one in five labeled “especially liberal.”
Yep, good ol’ “fair and balanced.”
The real question, of course, is why, with Fox News in the field, conservatives should be concerning themselves with media bias issues anymore. They’ve got Fox to tell them what they want to hear; what the hell do they need to do with CNN anymore?
UPDATE: We’d also guess that a Fox News poll depresses Democrats about as much as Nation poll would depress Republicans ...
posted by Sully 5/24/2004 02:58:00 PM
LAST TO KNOW, AS ALWAYS:
Again, that johnkerryisadouchebag site has been around, and blogged on, for some time now.
But we suppose it only becomes real when it receives the Blog Queen’s royal blessing.
posted by Sully 5/24/2004 02:46:00 PM
Leaving aside the question of how anyone, save a pompous blogger who sneers at the idea that he needs to be edited, could possibly call a piece that links to all of two Iraqi bloggers a “summary,” we can find at least one Iraqi blogger who isn’t so upbeat:
That video of Nick Berg is beyond horrible. I haven’t been able to watch it whole. It makes me sick to my stomach and I can hardly believe it happened. His family must be devastated and I can’t even imagine what they must have felt. With all of this going on — first Abu Ghraib and now this, I haven’t felt like writing anything.
I was sick to my stomach when I first saw the video on some news channel and stood petrified, watching the screen and praying that they wouldn't show it whole because for some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I feel horrible. Was I shocked? Was I surprised? Hardly. We’ve been expecting this since the first pictures of the torture of Iraqi prisoners broke out. There's a certain rage in many people that is frightening. There’s a certain hunger and need for revenge that lame apologies from Bush and surprise visits from Rumsfeld won’t appease.
Karbala and Najaf in the south are war zones. There are Shi'a fighters in the streets and American tanks and helicopters are bombing certain areas. Today they bombed the oldest cemetery in Najaf (and one of the holiest in Iraq). It has caused quite an uproar and Al Sadr is currently calling for people to join him in the south. We are seeing another inflow of refugees into Baghdad… this time from the southern region. They are using the same tactics they used in Falloojeh on the “insurgency.” So why was it an intifadhah, or popular uprising, in 1991 and now suddenly it’s an insurgency? The people fighting in the streets of Najaf and Karbala aren’t trained warriors or former regime members … they are simply people who are tired of empty promises and hollow assurances.
The air feels stale and stagnant in Baghdad lately. There’s disappointment and exhaustion and a certain resignation to the anger and fear that seem to have taken over during recent weeks.
Oh, and let’s not also forget that the original Iraqi blogger, Salam Pax, has decided to give it up for a while.
Dear US administration,
Welcome to the next level. Please don't act surprised and what sort of timing is that: planning to go on a huge attack on the west of Iraq and provoking a group you know very well (I pray to god you knew) that they are trouble makers.
Oh and before I forget.........Help please.
UPDATE: We totally swear we didn’t read this post of Sebastian’s before writing this. Honest.
posted by Sully 5/24/2004 02:33:00 PM