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

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


Saturday, June 26, 2004


Judging from the right’s talking-points in response to Fahrenheit 9/11, people who have remained utterly blind to the media or TV news and not read newspapers or print media during the last three years or so will suddenly go out and get completely filled in from the movie.

We think this excerpt from the Tapper piece explains everything you need to know about questions Moore supposedly can’t answer ... questions that reveal more about the questioner than the respondent:

TAPPER: Is it not also legitimate to question whether, however, you are doing the same thing you're accusing the U.S. government of doing? You fault Saddam Hussein for being a brutal dictator back in the '80s when the United States was allied with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, yet when it comes to the part of the movie where you discuss going to war in Iraq in 2003, that’s not a part of the movie you talk about how brutal Saddam Hussein was.

MOORE: Because people like you and this network and other networks over and over and over again told us that. Look, we all get it. We all know that. I’m just trying to present another side of the story. Why don’t you think that’s a good idea to have a filmmaker out there presenting a point of view and a side of the story that really wasn't well represented in our mainstream media?

posted by Sully 6/26/2004 06:45:00 PM


The president and his party systematically collude to promote hatred against homosexuals, a group Sullivan claims to be a part of, for years, and he finds that quote of FDR’s most meaningful as it applies to Michael Moore? GIDOWDAHERE ...

Elsewhere, Steve Gilliard has a good take on how truly pernicious it is that the Republicans constantly call Al Gore crazy, and why more Democrats should do something about it.

posted by Sully 6/26/2004 06:36:00 PM


Comparing Moore to Riefenstahl is really lame. He’s not working with the resources of the state, for that state, for one. Nor is he heaving an affair with Karl Rove.

(BTW, we realized tonight why Moore drives conservatives so bats: he’s about the only current celebrity who looks remotely like they themselves do, talks sorta like them ... and he turns out to be a damn lefty)

UPDATE: John ex of Logan Circle sez Sully ripped him off.

posted by Sully 6/26/2004 03:45:00 AM


He’s as sane as he always was — just proving why he lost the last election, despite massive advantages

None of which, of course, matter when your opponent has a Supreme Court majority appointed by his party.

posted by Sully 6/26/2004 03:43:00 AM

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Tonight actually seems to have brought a nice return of the old Andrew Sullivan, evidenced by a nice smorgasbord of postings covering favorite obsessions subjects — Michael Moore bad bad bad, gay marriage, Clinton lies about little things, gay marriage, Michael Moore sucks — interspersed with desperate attempts to appear zany and off-topic by referencing Wayne Rooney (Nobby Stiles with teeth! ... yeah, we know, the Telly likes Paul Gascoigne better) and a South Asian spoof of The Simpsons.

Quite innocuous, most of it. But the melodrama surrounding his decision (as if it would have been any other way) to not see Fahrenheit 9/11 has not changed, much less gotten any better than it would have been two years ago:

I cannot bring myself to go to this piece of vile, hateful propaganda. I walked out of "Roger and Me" years ago, before Michael Moore was Michael Moore. I know who he is. I refuse to sit in a theater and subject myself to lies and hate.

Just throw down a silken handkerchief while you’re at it and cry “Oh!,” before you stalk off, why don’t you?

(and, for once, it looks like he’ll actually have the opportunity to do so. But what of The Hunting of the President, which he derided while it was being made as ipso facto an example of liberal bias? Will he self-righteously blow that one off too?)

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 11:58:00 PM


But, as we all know, there is no privacy in America any more. It’s no use complaining. Every aspect of everyone’s private life is now fair game. The press will print anything; and if they don’t, the Internet will; and then the press will report on the Internet.

It’s no use complaining, Captain, when you put the damn thing up on the Internet yourself.

Ryan’s divorce papers, by contrast, were sealed ... but he was delusional to think they would remain so (thanks Rittenhouse) and accordingly he wisely decided to pull the pin and release them himself. Unwisely, he failed to release himself from the race at the same time.

In other words, Andrew, it’s not quite the same. Save your tears for your own beer.

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 11:47:00 PM


Lileks picking on Reed is a bit like watching a wrinkly 75-year-old street ho hit a toothless 95-year-old street ho over the head with an umbrella. But we digress ... Picking on Lileks stopped being fun or funny a long time ago (one of these days, someone, maybe The Mighty Reason Man, is going to write the inevitable parody post in which Lileks describes sweet-talking Gnat as he takes her out for the ritual Satanic sacrifice she was conceived for, and then it’ll be all over), but it’s interesting to see the amount of warblogger and right-wing self-caricature that appears in his review:

In Rex’s world, to accuse someone is the equivalent of proving it’s true ... Set aside for a moment the incoherence of the prose ... Does this sort of rhetoric make us more likely to accurately identify future Hitlers, or less?

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 11:38:00 PM


P O’Neill wonders if Sullivan realizes the complete implication of broadcasting beheadings.

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 11:59:00 AM


Steve Brady comments on Sullivan’s Islamism rhetoric.

You know, I can have two enemies. The enemy of my enemy does not have to be my friend. I can be against both Bush and Al-Qaida. I can also walk and chew bubblegum at the same time.

A president, any president, can do far more damage to America from within than Al-Qaida can do from without. All they can do is kill us.

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 11:56:00 AM


This letter in this past Sunday’s New York Times Book Review concerning Sullivan’s piece on Hendra’s Father Joe has almost passed without notice, but it shouldn’t:

In his review of Tony Hendra’s “Father Joe” (May 30), Andrew Sullivan refers to the author as “an architect of the peerless parody rock documentary, ‘This Is Spinal Tap.’” I wonder where Sullivan picked up that phrase.

Tony did a fabulous job creating his role, improvising his dialogue and maintaining the tone of the piece, as did every other actor in the ensemble. Unfortunately, he stands apart as the only actor who has ever taken credit for the finished product. He did so years ago when he O.K.’d the ad copy for a Reagan-era theatrical project that listed him as “Creator of Spinal Tap.” When called on this, he claimed to have no idea how such a silly thing could have happened.

For the record, the film’s credits read, “Written by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner and Harry Shearer,” with an on-screen toast to the entire company for their improvisational brilliance. All of them.

I think Tony Hendra is at least one confession away from salvation.

Michael McKean
New York

Pretty bad when Lenny shows you up. Seems to us that the continuing contretemps between Spinal Tap and their ex-manager may be more than just an act (watch the DVD with the commentary on — it’s done in character, and it’s absolutely hilarious (they complain that DiBergi included the one scene where they couldn’t find the stage as opposed to all the times that they did ... “show the plane landing. Don’t show the plane crashing.”)

But it’s not surprise that Sullivan, who lives so much off his own myths, would readily pass on those of a fellow expat, even one with diametrically opposed politics.

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 11:05:00 AM


Will Sullivan deplore this as another example of Britain becoming too tame and PC as regards to those little brown folk and their exotic religions?

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 04:01:00 AM


Aside from Sullivan’s continuing his “he loves me ... he loves me not” dilemma vis-a-vis Bush, there is a major error in that speech that Sullivan (perhaps unsurprisingly) didn’t pick up.

To wit, that A-B-C thing was not invented in Uganda, as this article that ran in the New York Times Magazine — you know, where Sullivan used to work — a couple of weeks ago made clear. It was a mnemonic AIDS prevention workers had come up with among themselves (The article also makes the points that Uganda has some other factors working in its side, not least is the lack of community disruption caused by past attempts by white settlers to throw blacks off their lands, which other African countries do not enjoy). We were sort of surprised Sullivan didn’t find it remarkable at the time. Now we realize he probably didn’t even read it. Or even know it existed.

And we can think of something else that “B” might address, too.

UPDATE: Jo Fish chimes in:

Does he have anything but time? Excuse me, is he off to his day job bagging groceries at the local mega-mart? Or is he just curled up on the couch dreaming of a three-way between him, Preznit Inchoate and Bill Weld while he pouts over those abominable speechwriters who won’t let his hero mention that icky subject ... gay men and AIDS. But hey, the speech was “moving,” so I guess that counts for something ... before August Vacation starts anyhow.

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 03:28:00 AM


Aside from Sullivan’s continuing his “he loves me ... he loves me not” dilemma vis-a-vis Bush, there is a major error in that speech that Sullivan (perhaps unsurprisingly) didn’t pick up.

To wit, that A-B-C thing was not invented in Uganda, as this article that ran in the New York Times Magazine — you know, where Sullivan used to work — a couple of weeks ago made clear. It was a mnemonic AIDS prevention workers had come up with among themselves (The article also makes the points that Uganda has some other factors working in its side, not least is the lack of community disruption caused by past attempts by white settlers to throw blacks off their lands, which other African countries do not enjoy). We were sort of surprised Sullivan didn’t find it remarkable at the time. Now we realize he probably didn’t even read it. Or even know it existed.

And we can think of something else that “B” might address, too.

posted by Sully 6/24/2004 03:28:00 AM

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Atrios today also had this interesting excerpt from Clinton’s book, in which Senator Alan Simpson, R-WY, explains it all for you.

You know, before you were elected, we Republicans believed the press was liberal. Now we have a more sophisticated view. They are liberal in a way. Most of them voted for you, but they think more like your right-wing critics do, and that’s much more important ... The right-wing extremists don’t think government can do much to improve on human nature, but they like power. So does the press. And since you're President, they both get power the same way, by hurting you ...

posted by Sully 6/23/2004 10:47:00 PM


Ruminating on Elizabeth McCaughey, Atrios wonders what her career says about the man who allowed “No Exit” to be published originally.

Later, he provides to Sullivan and Jack Shafer an example of what Moore was talking about when he said he had retained lawyers and would sue for libel if warranted ... not over bad reviews of the movie, but over intentionally false and misleading statements about its content.

UPDATE: Steve Mussina on the absurdities of Hitch’s Moore-bashing:

Michael Moore is never going to wield state power, repressive or otherwise, or put his work in the service of those who do. And don't tell me he might do so in a Kerry administration — if there ever is a President Kerry, he’ll always be to Moore’s right, and he’ll eventually become a Moore target. Moore certainly isn’t wielding state power now. It's pure demagoguery to emerge from his movie and claim to hear the sound of jackboots.

posted by Sully 6/23/2004 01:27:00 PM


Sullivan would have been on reasonably firm ground if he’d left that bit about Moore and Bush’s vacation time to just the link to the other blog.

But when he goes into “the premise is wrong, too” he goes off the deep end into a kind of Republican-ized version of High Tory arrogance that still staggers us.

Bush setting an example by taking more vacations? That’s because he can! He’s President (unfortunately)! He can go on as much or as little as he wants. Not too many other people outside the executive class have that luxury (and one of them, naturally, is Sullivan, a guy who sustains himself largely by recycling other people’s material on a website and hoping that his famous name will prompt people to drop money in his tip jar to pay the mortgage on a prime P-Town beach house).

Hey Blog Queen, if you wonder why Americans take such minimal amounts of vacation, you might consider the minimal amount our employers are required to give us, to begin with (as compared to, say, Europeans). Take your little speechifying to your local Wal-Mart or McDonald’s, for one thing. We’re sure those people would be the first to agree with you that they could and should take more vacations ... but once you burn through your ten days, you have to make it unpaid, and you need every paycheck you can get to keep a roof over your family’s head and put bread on the table. Let’s see how they react when you tell them to beg for money online ... it worked for you.

UPDATE: Steve Brady runs the numbers and finds that, on the whole, out of our last five presidents, the GOPers have indeed logged much more vacation time.

posted by Sully 6/23/2004 12:17:00 PM


While it may indeed be a little unscientific to gauge opinion based on Internet chat sites (and leaving aside entirely the question of this judgement coming from someone who has no hesitations posting threads from Democratic Underground when he wants to demonstrate the decadence or depravity of the left), the strong feelings of much of the population of South Korea in opposition to the war are very real and well-documented elsewhere.

[A] recent poll by the daily Naeil newspaper found that 67.1% of the population is opposed to sending combat troops to Iraq

And no, this isn’t because the Koreans are all flower-child peaceniks. It might also have to do with us having to pull some of our troops out of South Korea — you know, the ones that deter North Korea from invading.

posted by Sully 6/23/2004 11:48:00 AM


Amazing how Sullivan radily clings to any little thread to preserve his Bushophilia. Sure, it was nice to hear Bush say that. But the deeper question here is the fact that at the administrative level immediately below, a person directly accountable to Bush (Rumsfeld) seems to have signed off on at least some questionable methods and knowledge of what methods were being used seems to have been widespread. Bush cannot be Caesar’s wife here. It will not suffice to say that torture is unacceptable. Even the question of whether he knew is really irrelevant, since we believe that in any event he should have known. And further, what effort did he make to disseminate this attitude further down the ranks, that anything that was torture would not be tolerated? When the men in the upper ranks know that the president himself has made such a statement, it makes a difference in what they choose to do.

From the looks of things, it seems to us, the answer to that second question is “not much, if any.” He may not have intended it that way, but it looks like his statement may have been more ass-covering than anything else.

posted by Sully 6/23/2004 11:26:00 AM

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


77002, the former Logan Circle Guy, does a job on Sullivan’s “Email of the Day” (Since he doesn’t print one every day, and since some days he prints more than one, why does he call the feature that? Why bother with the grandiosity?):

It’s really kind of mind-boggling — if you think someone might have weapons, but you aren’t sure, you should just go after them. You know, just in case.

I’m not sure how the person making this argument (or Sullivan, endorsing it on his blog) then explains why we wouldn’t do the same with people we know have WMD, like North Korea.

The likely response is, of course, “but they have nukes.” Too true, but what was the administration doing while they could have stopped that?

posted by Sully 6/22/2004 12:05:00 PM



“United StateS”

posted by Sully 6/22/2004 11:29:00 AM


There may be an explanation for one of the BBC “horrors” reported in Gross’s piece (which, again contrary to the way Sullivan spins it, are restricted to critiquing the Beeb’s Israel/Palestine coverage).

“Over the years, Hamas has been blamed for scores of suicide attacks on Israel,” says the BBC, thereby trying to suggest to listeners and viewers that Hamas has perhaps been wrongly accused of such attacks (even though Hamas itself has proudly and repeatedly claimed responsibility for them in mass celebratory rallies in Gaza, Jenin, and elsewhere.)

What may be behind this is the longstanding complaint of some Hamas members that Arafat, when the Israelis leaned on him to arrest people in the wake of a suicide bombing, tended to round up them as “the usual suspects” when many of them and Arafat’s people knew that it was Arafat’s Fatah that had orchestrated the attack.

So, the phrasing may more reflect an understanding of internal Palestinian politics as opposed to a desire to acquit Hamas. Of course, if so, it should have been phrased as such.

posted by Sully 6/22/2004 11:18:00 AM

Monday, June 21, 2004


Sorry for our absence today. We’ll be back tomorrow, but in the meantime we direct you to a great exegesis (or lack thereof) by George Cerny.

posted by Sully 6/21/2004 10:55:00 PM


Reading over Johnson’s piece, it seems he’s guilty of at the most a certain degree of naïveté about one of the Middle East’s less savory regimes (Syria. But one should also consider those comments of Assad’s in light of the tremendous degree of intelligence on al-Qaa‘idah they shared with us after 9/11, an approach that got them little reward because the neocons would rather leave the U.S. short of information it desperately needed instead of helping a country that remains at war with Israel) or at least historically.

Of course, in March 2003 we had no quarrel with the peace-loving Iraqi people either ...

But it’s a stretch semantically to refer to that as appeasement. Newspaper editors cannot appease foreign governments; only other governments can.

And that’s not even getting into the misrepresentation and distortion aspect of things here. Sharkansky criticizes Johnson for not describing U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast in argumentative and propagandistic terms as he does. Not for getting facts wrong, mind you, just for not seeing the world the way he does. That, to an Andrew Sullivan who sounds desperately in need of conservative street cred, counts as “putting the boot in.”

Once again, we clicked on the link, which perhaps Sullivan is telling us something about by not including in his own post (not least that he didn’t read it himself). And we found that, while the provided excerpt is certainly poorly phrased at the very least, as usual it isn’t the whole story.

Consider who Johnson talked to:

From early morning to late at night we met with political scientists, public servants, government officials and ex-government officials, religious leaders, journalists and publishers, a filmmaker, Western and Middle Eastern diplomats, human rights activists, United Nations officials, former political prisoners, university students and some of the students' parents and one head of state — President Bashar Assad of Syria. We also had a chance to talk with ordinary people in shops and markets.

And would Sullivan disagree with this?

My impression is that people in the Arab and Islamic world still have considerable admiration, at least for our ideals, and for what they see as our life of individual and economic freedom — and that the minority that really hate us, enough to do us in at any given opportunity, are a very small minority.

After talking with Goldberg, I ran these impressions by Samer Shehata, a professor of Middle East and Arab politics at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. Shehata had briefed our group before our trip.

“I am in complete agreement,” Shehata said, “and the polling data (from the region) bears this out.


It seems that the democracy and freedom we enjoy in the United States are the main reasons that people still love us. Love us, not our government. Over and over we were told that the foreign policy of our government (and the Bush administration was singled out repeatedly) has made it the most hated in the world.

It appears that what the Arabic and Islamic people want is that we keep those ideals in the forefront of our foreign policy. Freedom and democracy, we were told, doesn't come from an invasion or from unilateral support of Israel's aspirations in the region at the expense of all other people in the region.

But we also heard that they love our universities and many students still want to come to the United States, although some students complained that because of new restrictions on visas for people from the Mideast, fewer students will have that opportunity. They also love our economy, our movies, our music and fashions. McDonald's and Starbucks are popular in downtown Beirut as are top designer stores from Europe.

On any given night, American movies and sitcoms were playing on local cable TV stations. Even Hezbollah, which has its own satellite TV network, shows soap operas, although they are locally produced and stick close to Islamic family values.

Goldberg said he thinks many people in the Arab world have an idealized view of life inside the United States and that is what fuels their "admiration and desire for the U.S. internal experience." But the distrust of our government, especially regarding its actions in the Arab world, is still strong, he said.

And, of course, I realize there are those who will hate Americans no matter what we do. But I believe they are such a minority of the people in the Arabic and Islamic world that, statistically, they barely register. The only reason they are taken seriously is that they have and are ready to again use any method to attack the object of their hatred.

Jesus Christ, if this is appeasement then include President Bush among the appeasers!

Of course, in light of Abu Ghraib, consider the final grafs:

In response to a question about the possible effects of the photos of Iraqi prisoners being abused by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Assad, said, “For a long time we have had problems with the American administration, not the American people, (but) I am afraid these things will accumulate, and people will no longer distinguish between the U.S. administration and its people, and this is dangerous.”

Now, of course, Syria is not exactly a democratic state, and certainly even the ordinary people Johnson talked to may have felt pressure, even internally, to toe the party line. But at the same time, Syria does not, from what we’ve read of it anyway, meet the definition of totalitarianism, at least not as Hannah Arendt defined it. Even Saddam’s Iraq had those who dared to whisper dissenting comments to visiting Westerners. Iraqis for their part knew something of what was really going on in the outside world. And we think no regime can make the totalitarian cut when it allows its citizens to get caller-ID which then causes problems for the secret police because anonymous threatening phone calls get traced back to where they came from and the boos has to write a memo reaming everyone out for this. Iraq and Syria were and are tyrannies, severely authoritarian states if you like to use Jeane Kirkpatrick’s calculus, but they weren’t and aren’t totalitarian states. Iran at its best came closer; only North Korea remains locked in the ice that blanketed much of Eastern Europe at midcentury (one has to wonder if even a country with a modestly open trading policy can even begin to be an effective totalitarian state as the Soviet Union was, giving modern communications technology, not least of which is the one you’re using right now)

So, we think at least some of the Sawt an-naas that Johnson heard has to be genuine article.

ADDENDUM: Also a word about Shark’s project.

His current blog is entirely devoted, it seems, to refuting the proposition Eric Alterman makes in What Liberal Media?, or rather the argument he seems to think Alterman made: that, if the media aren’t liberal, therefore they are conservative by cataloging examples of supposed liberal media bias (Gee, what a frigging original idea for a conservative blog. No one’s ever though of that before).

But that’s emaphatically not Alterman’s thesis. As spelled out in Alterman’s introduction, on p. 11:

... the point is clear. Conservatives are extremely well-represented in every facet of the media. The correlative point is that even the liberal media is not so liberal.

Or, as we understand it, the media is not as liberal as conseratives like to think.

The idea that Stefan Sharkansky and other righties cannot imagine a media incapable of bias, that it has to be an either-or proposition, just proves our belief that “liberal ‘media bias’” is the great Lacanian Other of the conservative worldview.

posted by Sully 6/21/2004 12:09:00 AM

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