Friday, July 09, 2004
I love that idea of “educating” politicians and, if they fail to be “educated,” removing them. You know that a party has become a sect when that kind of language is used.
But just how long ago was it that Sullivan was differentiating conservatives from liberals by saying (and we quote from memory) “we look for converts; they look for heretics”?
posted by Sully 7/09/2004 03:28:00 PM
Sebastian, who also should know, has a detailed post up on the inadequacies and omissions of that German media-watch blog Sullivan is so fond of.
posted by Sully 7/09/2004 01:09:00 PM
Logan Circle Guy on the contrast between Sullivan and others condemning Moore as anti-American while a Republican Congress extends some of the more egregious portions of the Patriot Act by holding a vote open in defiance of House rules ... just the sort of behavior shown in Fahrenheit 9/11.
posted by Sully 7/09/2004 01:05:00 PM
BLACK AND WHITE:
Perhaps the reason people don’t switch over to black and white is that the blogger’s worldview is already black-and-white enough.
posted by Sully 7/09/2004 12:56:00 PM
Thursday, July 08, 2004
OUI, NOUS POUVONS LIRE FRANÇAIS:
And here’s our translation of part of the Le Monde review:
The hallucinatory moment where George W Bush sits, stupefied, on a grade-school chair as he is told that a second plane has crashed into the World Trade Center towers had already been shown. Here, it acquires all its force, its overpowering impact, by being restored to its full length: visual proof that this man is incapable of leading the United States.
The subhed calls the film “simplistic and sometimes demagogic” and the reviewer feels the film goes too much for spectacle over content, but admits it is effective. Here’s the Google translation.
(BTW, we just went out and saw it and will be posting our thoughts later).
posted by Sully 7/08/2004 11:48:00 PM
BUT DON’T THEY DESERVE IT?:
British journalists have been jailed, humiliated and deported for the most minor of details ... But when you target the group that is responsible for conveying what the United States is to the rest of the world, you are only hurting yourself.
Butbutbut ... aren’t some of those journalists from the big bad BBC, the one that doesn’t have anything nice to say about us and wants radical Islamism to win the war? In that case, shouldn’t it be just desserts that they got kicked out or Abu Ghraib-ified?
And shouldn’t someone be able to see the connection between his own rhetoric and his government’s actions?
posted by Sully 7/08/2004 11:41:00 PM
THE ENEMY IS US:
Giving out phone numbers so people can harass elected officials? What does Sullivan think he is now, Media Whores Online?
posted by Sully 7/08/2004 11:39:00 PM
Logan Circle Guy has an answer for Sullivan’s question regarding The Filthy Critic:
Clearly, Andrew recognizes that being printed in a paper versus on the web confers greater credibility on a writer. Which is, no doubt, why he works a little jab at Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist who (unlike Andrew) did not get fired.
posted by Sully 7/08/2004 12:18:00 PM
CATCH OF THE DAY:
Jo Fish hits back-to-back homers off Sully and Fahrenheit 9/11.
First, he reminds Sully that there was an alternative a long time ago:
Interestingly enough, and maybe someone could point it out to me, I don't remember that the Baroness of Bent ever went this nuts about the propaganda flick made for Showtime where Fearless Leader was portrayed as the Steely-Eyed Missile-Man.
Then, he reprints a reader email on Sullivan’s continued climbdown from trying to compare F9/11 unfavorably with Jackass:
As it is brutally apparent that the “documentary” record Randy Andy keened about should fall within the next 48 hours or so, how will he manage to move the goalposts while firmly ensconced in his J. Peterman hammock this time?
Easy. He won’t mention it at all.
posted by Sully 7/08/2004 12:10:00 PM
STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE:
Re Sully’s Kerry fisking, Matthew Yglesias has some questions over at TAPped:
Now I’m not opposed to hearing more from Kerry about his policy toward the Middle East, but what, exactly, does “Bush-style democratization” consist of? A little martial law and constitution-shredding in Iraq, while our other authoritarian allies in the region aren’t democratizing at all and, indeed, seem to be being used as opportunities to outsource torture. And we’re not promoting democracy in Central Asia — all those countries that end in “stan” — we’re doing the reverse: Promoting anarchy in Afghanistan and authoritarianism in the rest. We’re not promoting democracy in China or in Russia or, indeed, anywhere with the partial exception of post-Soviet Georgia.
posted by Sully 7/08/2004 12:03:00 AM
George Cerny doesn’t think private anti-terrorist death squads are such a measure of progress in post-handover Iraq.
As much as I’d like to see al-Zarqawi dead, this is utter nonsense. Death squads — a more accurate term than “militias” — are beyond the control of anything like an accounbtable government. Their arrival does not signal resistance to bloody chaos so much as the inability of a legitimate government to protect its citizens.
An instructive example is Colombia's battle with Pablo Escobar. As Mark Bowden documented in his book, Killing Pablo, Escobar’s defeat saved Colombia from narco-terrorism, but at great cost to Colombian democracy.
posted by Sully 7/08/2004 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
P O’Neill on the Sullivan-Hitchens dynamic and how Michael Moore fits in.
Here we see the return to the “objectively pro-X” terminology of the early post 9/11 days; in this case, the two Oxbridge boys tell the Michigander that he’s a traitor. Sullywatch will have plenty to say about Sully’s pathologies on this one, but Hitch’s fury seems in a class of its own. Basically, we think he’s jealous of Moore. Remember what Hitch used to be known for — the iconoclastic treatments of Mother Teresa and Princess Di. Now the sacred figure is Dubya, but it’s Hitch leading the mob to protect the church. Somewhere deep down, he knows that he used to be on the other side.
posted by Sully 7/07/2004 11:57:00 PM
A PERFECT FAN FICTION SETUP:
MICKEY, PEGGY AND ME
We leave it to TBogg to imagine that threesome.
Or maybe not.
posted by Sully 7/07/2004 11:55:00 PM
RALL IN THE FAMILY:
I guess he needs more attention.
Then why give it to him? Rex Reed not doing anything this week?
Other than the Rice bit, it’s actually pretty funny.
posted by Sully 7/07/2004 11:53:00 PM
LET ACCURACY BE ACCURACY:
Perhaps the reason this silly attempt at McCarthyizing Kerry and Edwards stops at Bill Buckley is that the quote in question isn’t in that particular poem, nor indeed is anything so overtly pro-Soviet in “Let America be America” which we here quote in full:
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed —
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean —
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today — O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home —
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay —
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again —
The land that never has been yet —
And yet must be — the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine — the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME —
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose —
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath —
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain —
All, all the stretch of these great green states —
And make America again!
OK, not exactly shy on the class-warfare front, but not exactly agitprop for Uncle Joe and the Workers’ Paradise either, when read divorced from a knowledge of the historical period in question, as Tim Noah doesn’t do. Perhaps conservatives are understandably nervous about the eloquent expression of their kind of patriotism resting cheek-by-jowl with such exhortations against inequality. But they needn’t transfer those to the rest of us.
For, if the politics of the writer led us, as indeed it sometimes does, to disown his or her writings in full or part, we’d have to throw out the Pledge of Allegiance, written by a confirmed socialist and indeed carrying subtle propaganda to that end. Somehow we don’t believe conservatives (other than the paleocon ultralibertarian nutjobs we found and were entertained by while Googling this) are ready to throw out that particular baby.
One might also have to ask if Sullivan considered Gil Scott-Heron’s politics when he shamelessly paraphrased the latter’s famous “The revolution will not be televised!” slogan for his blog in a way that not only managed to completely misunderstand it but to ignore that classic’s rad-left pedigree:
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.
Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.
We could go further with examples of this, such as Pat Buchanan marching into his rallies with one of the most nakedly fascistic arena-rock anthems ever written, “We Will Rock You,” (change the title mantra to “Heil, Heil Hitler,” imagine a bunch of brown-shirted Hitlerjugend punctuating the boom-boom-crash with salutes and you have Leni Riefenstahl’s nominee for the MTV Awards), lyrics and singing by the openly-bisexual Freddy Mercury who died of AIDS, certainly things Buchanan would not so willingly endorse, but we won’t. Songs and works of art have long been appropriated for political purposes divergent from what their original writers may have intended, and to try to hold politicians accountable for said appopriation and misuse is, as Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp learned long ago, futile.
UPDATE: So Sullivan seems to have responded to this to some degree. He sees a critique of private property and a call to Communist revolution. But we feel that, to a reader knowing nothing (as many contemporary Americans don’t) of Hughes’s political flirtations in the ’30s, that would seem no different than any number of progressive-era anti-wealth themes that can be found in the original lyrics to “America the Beautiful” and indeed in a classic folk patriotic anthem, “This Land is Your Land,” written around the same time and still sung by schoolchildren today.
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me
As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me
Hmm, think Woody isn’t advocating public ownership of private property there?
Let’s go further into the song than our grade-school teachers did:
As I was walkin' — I saw a sign there
And that sign said — no tress passin’
But on the other side .... it didn’t say nothin’!
Now that side was made for you and me!
We’re sure that it will just be a matter of time until the verses calling for the reactionaries to be thrown into the Gulag are found somewhere. Especially since the song ends on this note:
In the squares of the city — In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office — I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.
Hey, don’t take our word for it. Take the government’s.
Of course, perhaps Sullivan would be happier with the parody we remember from childhood:
I got a shotgun
And you don’t got one
And I'll squeeze some lead off
And blow your head off
Or Dave Barry’s:
This land is your land
This land is my land
Looks like one of us
Has a forged deed to this land
Communism isn’t the only extreme ideology that narrows the mind.
LATER UPDATE: Logan Circle Guy seconds this post and adds:
Andrew would have been quite comfortable in a Soviet propaganda ministry erasing people from photos, I think. (Out little Leni can do more than write!)
Just like his Orwellian hero ...
YET LATER UPDATE: Steve Brady finds that Laura Bush’s speechwriters have not been above putting Hughes’s words in her mouth, either.
posted by Sully 7/07/2004 12:50:00 PM
RY-Y-Y-YY-Y-Y-Y-YYYAN OVER YOU ...:
As is to be expected, Sully’s Sunday Times of London column on the Ryan affair is dishonest and self-serving. What’s surprising is just how blatant and extensive this is.
For one, it starts off with a blatant example of blaming the victim:
Perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Clinton years in American public life is the disappearance of any privacy.
You don’t need to have Norman Geras’s standards to see that Sullivan is drawing a not-so-subtle link here between Clinton and the erosion of “privacy” (his concept, not the real thing) that he so deplores. Obviously, it’s Bill Clinton’s fault for continuing to engage in shameful sexual behavior while president that just made the Paula Jones lawsuit and the Starr Report so necessary. He ruined it for all the other sexual hypocrites out there. The bastard!
Forget the old strictures about only reporting on adultery or hypocrisy or on public legal proceedings.
But, as has been shown more than once, Ryan on his own website, and in his own advertising, identified himself or allowed himself to be identified with the phrase “family values,” that nebulous codeword universally accepted across the American political spectrum as “opposed to abortion, sex on TV and homosexuality” for at least the last decade or so. (Link via Roger Ailes)
In fact, his own position statements tend to back that up ... he opposes abortion and gay marriage (Given perhaps that he was married to and had a son by a woman who became famous for prancing around the starship Voyager in skintight spandex, he was shrewd enough to recognize that at least it would seem hypocritical to complain about risque entertainment).
So, once again, if you embrace and cater to the family values crowd, not just in your rhetoric but your positions, you better at least do some serious thinking about what would happen to your campaign if documentary evidence came out that you seemed interested in re-enacting scenes from Eyes Wide Shut with your wife, especially when she balked at doing so. Inasmuch as the sort of people who can’t buy enough Veggie Tales stuff for their kids may fantasize about doing things like that or search through Internet porn after the wife and kiddies are tucked away (and we can guarantee you right now that at least one of these types, in New York as a GOP convention delegate, is going to be seen and perhaps photographed in the company of some beefy young men in Chelsea or the West Village after having told the family he needed to go to an urgent meeting on the subject of same-sex marriage), they are not comfortable voting for someone who had to be open about doing such things. In other words, this is hypocrisy, and Sullivan’s refusal to see that either in Ryan or himself is getting to be infuriating.
A charismatic, handsome, even sexy Republican won the primary for the vacant Illinois Senate seat.
The seat is not vacant at present (Senate seats, which can quickly be filled via temporary appointment by the governor, rarely are for more than a week or so). Peter FitzGerald has decided not to run for a second term.
Ordinarily we’d let something not really relevant to the argument pass, but in a piece where error is as much the norm as it is in this one, we won’t.
Trouble is, this Republican, one Jack Ryan (no relation to the Harrison Ford character)...
Jack Ryan is Tom Clancy’s character. While Ford is no doubt the most memorable movie Ryan, and the only one so far to have played the part in more than one screen adaptation, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck have also done turns in the role.
Again, this is really only worth an eye-roll in the usual scheme of things. But, given Sullivan’s oft-flaunted embrace of pop culture, this latest breezy misstatement of fact is another in a disturbing pattern.
Do you really think Sullivan would say something like “James Bond (no relation to the Sean Connery character)”?
... once had a high-profile marriage to a stunning television star, Jeri Ryan, a marriage that had ended in a not-so-blissful divorce. The divorce proceedings and record had been sealed ...
What was sealed and then re-opened were the custody proceedings, which can be separate from the divorce. Both parties being somewhat independently wealthy, the Ryans may have had little acrimony dividing the assets of their marriage. But that would be no guarantee that they could agree on custody, not least when they planned to be living half a continent apart, and that’s probably why they had a custody fight.
... ostensibly to protect the couple’s nine-year old son ...
That one word, “ostensibly” is Sullivan’s sole, sub rosa acknowledgement that Ryan disgracefully claimed there was material in the court papers that would harm their son if released. Perhaps there was, after all ... much of what the court unsealed was indeed redacted, and we’ll never know and in this area we shouldn’t.
But the unredacted material contained nothing about the boy. It did not go unnoted amongst Chicago’s political and pundit community that Ryan had hidden behind his own son, possibly to the boy’s detriment.
The Chicago Tribune didn’t like the sound of this, and had heard all sorts of rumors about the marriage, and so they sued to open the records.
(Emphasis ours, readers may already realize the point we’re setting up; we’ll deal with this later). Again, Sullivan completely omits that a Chicago TV station joined the Trib in filing suit.
Next Sullivan has to acknowledge, and thus spin, another issue that redounds unfavorably to his argument.
The Tribune had already acquired one scalp. Earlier in the primary, they had pressured another candidate’s divorce proceedings open. The records showed that the candidate, Blair Hull, had been accused of hitting his wife at one point and threatening her. Under those circumstances, Hull dropped from being the leading candidate to third place. But the Trib still had Ryan in its sights.
In other words, a climate had been created where someone’s sealed divorce records turned out to contain material relevant to a candidate’s fitness for public office. Under those circumstances, Ryan should have recognized that a weapon against him had been armed, and done everything possible to mitigate any damage the unsealing of his own custody fight might have done. Instead he chose to try to tough it out and stonewall, even lying through his teeth to party bosses and movement people about what those records might show. Anyone with a brain knows that didn’t work for Nixon, didn’t work for Clinton and isn’t going to work, period.
Also, the Trib did not file a suit to get Hull’s divorce records opened. According to this story from the rival Sun-Times:
Hull and Sexton asked a judge to open the records to public scrutiny as questions surfaced last week about sealed protection orders that Sexton obtained against him in 1998 — and as his front-runner status appeared to slip.
So it was not about the divorce, but sealed protection orders. A bit different, but also relevant under a hypocrisy standard given that Hull had been running at least partly on his support for women’s issues.
The paper acknowledged that it had absolutely no reason to believe there was anything incriminating in the files, but it wanted a fishing expedition.
So, first the Trib had “heard rumors,” then it (as its editorial explicitly stated) hadn’t. You could argue that having heard rumors is not, technically, incompatible with not having a reason to believe there was anything incriminating, but there’s not really a lot of difference there, is there, especially when the two lines are written by someone as infamous for fudging and weaseling as Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan quotes from the judge’s opinion, again without offering anything in the way of critique or counterargument — or blame. Do you think he would have been manhandling the Tribune so much if it and WWLS-TV had petitioned and lost? We don’t.
It didn’t matter that there were no accusations of illegal conduct. There was just one racy story of how Ryan had allegedly asked his wife to go to sex clubs on three occasions in order to have public sex. She refused. He pushed. She refused again. She felt pressured and made that part of her case for ending the marriage.
Explain, please, how this is in any way different from what President Clinton is alleged to have done to Kathleen Willey (other than him touching her). Remember also that Jeri Ryan claims she was misled by him into going to the clubs.
We think this speaks volumes about Ryan’s attitude toward women. Certainly conservatives were not so circumspect when the Willey allegations made 60 Minutes.
Notice that, in the Tribune’s view, there is no real distinction between the records of a village board meeting and the most intimate details of a person’s sex life.
Well, from experience we’d say that sometimes the village board minutes are more interesting. But, as Michael Miner wrote in the alt-weekly Chicago Reader, using some language Sullivan would recognize in his own writings on the subject, marriage has been for a long time an intensely public affair, sometimes to an extent that would shock us today (well, it might give Jack Ryan a little cold comfort).
In Norse society, newlyweds took to their matrimonial bed in the presence of witnesses. Richard Friedenthal’s biography of Martin Luther tells this tale: “On the evening of 13 June 1525, according to the custom of the day, [Luther] appeared with his bride before a number of his friends as witnesses. The Pomeranian Bugenhagen blessed the couple, who consummated the marriage in front of witnesses, as Jonas reported the next day: ‘Luther has taken Katharina von Bora to wife. I was present yesterday and saw the couple on their marriage bed.’”
In olden times marriage was as carefully negotiated as a corporate merger is today and as heavily regulated as a TV franchise. Banns were posted to give the public and the religious authorities plenty of time to investigate and weigh in. As divorce, the renunciation of marriage vows, took hold, it was made equally public.
Because marriage continues to be a civil contract as well as a sacrament, divorce records continue under normal circumstances to be available for public consumption.
And as the Trib noted, in Cook County the vast majority of divorce cases are open for public inspection, because they make use of a public resource, the courts. Just like village board minutes.
We also learn, too, that (for reasons Miner can’t or doesn’t go into) a spokesman for another candidate in the Republican primary had somehow learned at least details of the damaging information and had tried to force it out right before the primary but was fired by his boss. Certainly we’d agree with Sullivan that that was the right thing to do, but it would be interesting to know how the spokesman got that information in the first place, before the Tribune even cared. In fact, it also seems like, as we speculated, that was floating around enough for a Sun-Times columnist to confidently and accurately predict that the release of the information would cost Ryan his candidacy. Where is Sullivan’s outrage over that breach of Ryan’s privacy, which could only have come from someone not allowed to share the information in the first place?
So, Sullivan, reviewing the shattered eggshell that remains of Jack Ryan For Senate and bemoaning once again the damage to his concept of privacy, concludes that the solution is ... to do the same to John Kerry.
Oh, yes, he says he hopes Kerry “will survive.” Yet at the same time he blasts the press, not for nosiness as he has up to this point but for not being ballsy enough to do the same to John Kerry as, one can only interpret, payback.
Well, that omits the fact that the Hull case, which Sullivan already mentioned, was the original sin for which the Ryan exposure was seen by all involved as equal and commensurate payback. Both parties are even, in our opinion ... there is no need to answer the takedown via unsealed family-court papers of one Senate candidate who wasn’t seen as likely to win with the similar opening of a presidential candidate’s divorce papers.
We honestly think, as Sullivan’s for-once honest recounting of Kerry’s first marriage would demonstrate, the material therein would be more damaging and hurtful to his first wife and her well-documented struggles with depression than it would be to him.
He also brings up the Schwarzenegger-groping story as a similar example of what he’s talking about, although that involved no opened records and very public and potentially civil and criminally actionable conduct and indeed similar behavior on Schwarzenegger’s part had been reported on twice previously, in articles in Spy and Premiere. Certainly the LA Times’s timing could have been a lot better ... reportedly the whole story was ready weeks before the election (if you believe Mickey Kaus, who may just be telling the truth on this issue, but the Times had trouble keeping its balls on), but better that than the Washington Post’s infamous decision to hold its similar story on Bob Packwood till after he had been re-elected out of fear that it would be accused of trying to influence the election, only to be accused of letting Oregon’s voters be misled (a damned-if-you-do situation, frankly, where the simple solution for the press is to decide well in advance of the election what, if anything, about a candidate you’re going to cover in this vein of potentially scandalous material that could tip the electoral balance, then get your story as together as possible and publish anything you have no later than three weeks before the election.
Also, by the way, does anyone think there would be all this handwringing if Ryan’s implosion hadn’t made it that much more likely that a GOP-held Senate seat would go to the Democrats this fall? If this had happened in, say, Idaho, we really doubt he would care.
Ultimately, Sullivan completely avoids the obvious lesson: that what happened to Jack Ryan was a test of character, and not so much for what he did or didn’t do with his wife but for what he did in June 2004, he failed it.
posted by Sully 7/07/2004 09:58:00 AM
THE LONG AND SHORT OF COMMENTS:
Sullivan finally took advantage of an actually-pretty-good Daniel Drezner post to answer a long-made criticism, that the Blog Queen lacks comments as you’d find at most other blogs, the medium he is convinced will change the world.
And, as far as we can tell, the reasoning is this:
I don’t have comments because people would make nasty comments on them
OK. Point. Case study (although not mentioned by Drezner) is Little Green Footballs, whose Israeli-supremacist commenters made it the comments section that gives comments sections a bad name, and since Sullivan frequents that blog (or at least used to) he has to be aware of that issue.
But it might go deeper than that. Maybe if he had comments, aside from the flame wars this would inevitably start, it could be seen just how low on the evolutionary scale his readership really is, as his tendency to get a third of of his traffic from the Drudge Report already evinces.
Now, when you can publish selected reader email, you can continue to present to the Internet and the world the illusion that you have such high-class, educated readers whatever their political persuasion.
Also, in comments you can very quickly get called on a mistake or misperception. Given the frequency with which these occur on his blog, why bother with that embarassment when you can tuck those away in a separate page of reader emails?
Another answer, of course, would be that he already has a comment section and you’re reading it right now.
WHY WE DON’T HAVE A COMMENTS SECTION:
See above. And that we’re just too lazy to maintain one.
posted by Sully 7/07/2004 12:12:00 AM
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
FAILING TO FISK FISK:
Geras tries mightily to deflate Fisk through his choice of words, but there’s plenty of unvarnished condemnation in the piece:
Let’s go back again to the gruesome days of Baathist rule, let’s revisit once more the theatre of cruelty - back to all those war crimes and crimes against humanity ...
The gassing of Halabja? Of course. The mass killings of Shia after the 1991 rising? No doubt. The torture of innocent Iraqis at Saddam’s Abu Ghraib prison?
Maybe it’s just us, but we detect no irony, no doubt there, no attempt to downplay these.
And, yes, he even horned in on Tom Friedman’s franchise of Anonymous Quotees Who Conveniently Say Something Clever That The Columnist Would Like To:
As an Iraqi woman financial consultant - no friend of the Baath party - put it to me yesterday: “This is a childish play, written by children for children. We have real needs and they want us to go and watch a play.”
So, yes, there is at least a little real journalism underlying the piece. But to agree with Geras’s points you’d have to hate Fisk to begin with ... they are that subjective.
And even Geras has to concede Fisk may have no agenda in the other column under discussion ... which has plenty of harsh words for Saddam:
Saddam’s arrogant refusal to take human responsibility for the 1990 invasion of Kuwait? Or his dismissive, chilling response to the mass gassings of Halabja?
“I have heard of Halabja,” he said, as if he had read about it in a newspaper article. Later, he said just that: “I’ve heard about them (the killings) through the media.”
And, of course, watching that face yesterday, one had to ask how much Saddam had reflected on the very real crimes with which he was charged: Halabja; Kuwait; the suppression of the Shi‘ite Muslim and Kurdish uprisings in 1991; the tortures and the mass killings.
One looked into those big, tired, moist eyes and wondered if he understood pain and grief and sin in the way we mere mortals think we do.
Then he turned lawyer. “Were these laws of which I am accused written under Saddam Hussein?”
Judge Juhi conceded that they were. “So what entitles you to use them against the president who signed them?”
Here was the old, familiar arrogance, the president who believed he was immune from his own laws, that he was above the law, outside the law.
The invasion of Kuwait was not an invasion, he said. “It was not an occupation.” Kuwait had tried to strangle Iraq economically, “to dishonour Iraqi women who would go into the street and would be exploited for 10 dinars.”
Given the number of women dishonoured in Saddam’s own torture chambers, these words carried their own unique and terrible isolation.
Might it just be possible the price of power was ignorance, the cost of guilt a mere suggestion here and there, that the laws of Iraq - so immutable according to Saddam yesterday - were not adhered to as fairly as they might have been?
No, I think not. I remember how, a decade-and-a-half ago, Saddam asked a group of Kurds whether he should hang “the spy” Farzad Bazoft and how, once the crowd had obligingly told him to execute the young freelance reporter from The Observer, he straightaway ordered his hanging.
No, I think Saddam knew. I think he regarded brutality as strength, cruelty as justice, pain as mere hardship, death as something to be endured by other people.
A key moment came when Saddam, crouched slightly in his seat, said with controlled irony: “Am I not supposed to meet with lawyers? Just for 10 minutes?”
And one had to have a heart of stone not to remember how many of his victims must have begged, in the same way, for just 10 minutes more.
Geras tries to downplay the impact of all this, most notably by omitting the account of how a journalist for another English paper got hanged at Saddam’s order. Yes, Fisk is a bit self-centered, but we think it a stretch to call either of these an apologia for Saddam. All they truly betray is a long time spent covering Iraq and getting to know the subject, as any decent journalist does.
posted by Sully 7/06/2004 11:52:00 PM
It would help people understand you better, Sullivan, if you linked to news stories that everyone besides AOL subscribers could read.
For those who aren’t, here’s a link to the anti-Zarqawi group story.
posted by Sully 7/06/2004 11:48:00 PM
AS USUAL, HIS TIMING IS ALL OFF:
Apparently Yankee Doodle Andy is so patriotic that the holiday weekend wasn’t long enough for him.
With all the rumors flying about Kerry’s impending VP choice over the weekend, and the Edwards announcement finally breaking this morning, you’d think Sullivan could have put off hitting the hammock until next week, or afterwards. Betcha he has to come out, act (and it will be an act) all humble and say something this afternoon.
Years ago, the Village Voice caused a minor controversy among its own staff by firing a reporter without warning. In its response to the letter circulated on her behalf and signed by most of her coworkers, the editors pointed out that she had been assigned to cover (we think) the Central Park jogger rape trial. But late in the trial, with the verdict imminent, she had suddenly (according to the editors, anyway) taken off without telling them for a week’s personal vacation in Belize.
This sort of strikes as similar to what Sullivan is doing now. With a big story breaking in the offing, one anticipated for literally months, with the entire blogosphere talking about it over a holiday weekend, Sullivan recklessly and arrogantly decides it’s time for a break.
One of the joys of blogging is that you can’t get fired, of course, when you’ve got your own gig going. But you do sometimes have to rely on readers for some remuneration.
And we think this is a perfect time to take any money you were planning to give Sullivan and instead grace us with it. And let him know why.
UPDATE: Just as we expected, short break and no reader apology or explanation.
posted by Sully 7/06/2004 11:36:00 AM
GROSSER THAN GROSS:
Sebastian continues to twist the knife, reporting that the second-weekend box office of Fahrenheit 9/11 is alone almost equal to the total theatrical receipts of Jackass.
posted by Sully 7/06/2004 11:34:00 AM
Monday, July 05, 2004
IN CASE HE STILL DOESN'T GET IT:
Logan Circle Guy could not be more pointed:
"The breakdown of the family over the past 35 years is one of the root causes of some of our society’s most intractable social problems: criminal activity, illegitimacy and the cyclical nature of poverty."
That's from Jack Ryan, former GOP nominee for an Illinois senate seat. I'm not sure if he said that before or after taking his wife to sex clubs and pressuring her to have sex in front of spectators. We're supposed to feel bad that this hypocrite was ruined by reporters poking into his private life?
Hmm. Who could John be referring to there?
posted by Sully 7/05/2004 12:27:00 PM
Sunday, July 04, 2004
P O’Neill follows up on our earlier note on Sullivan’s gullibility with regard to another self-promoting English expat with some news (Hendra’s daughter is now claiming he molested her as a child) further criticism of the initial review of Father Joe and things Sullivan apparently doesn’t find disturbing or odd, and what that says about Smalltown Boy:
Well, our view is that Sully's eagerness to find a fellow English self-styled non-conformist seeking refuge in the spirituality of the Catholic church led him to be too unquestioning about Hendra’s story, right down to the claimed architecture of Spinal Tap. But more seriously, our first reaction upon reading the opening anecdote of the review was: he’s 14 and he’s about to have sex with the married woman next door? We know Ireland and England are different, but nothing about our own teenage years helped that story ring any more true. There’s a field day of psychology here in how Sully may have projected his own turmoil onto Hendra’s apparently redemptive tale, and it will be worth watching how he reacts as this surely messy controversy plays out over the next few days. We will update as necessary.
(emphasis in original)
posted by Sully 7/04/2004 01:54:00 PM
PERHAPS REFERRING TO DISH DETERGENT WOULD BE A LITTLE MORE TASTEFUL (AHEM), BUT A LITTLE LESS CLEAR:
Logan Circle Guy is amused by Sullivan’s overuse of the term “money quote,” particularly in the context of sexual allegations against a politician.
posted by Sully 7/04/2004 01:40:00 PM
TURN THE PAGE:
Clarence Page also said this, addressing an issue which likewise created problems for Bill Clinton that Sullivan took note of greatly at the time but here pretends doesn’t exist.
In the real world of politics, Ryan’s biggest sin was to assure top Illinois Republicans like state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, the GOP’s state chairwoman, and former Gov. Jim Edgar that the divorce documents were nothing to worry about when rumors about the papers surfaced.
With that, Ryan violated an age-old political commandment: Thou shalt not fudge the truth with thine party’s bosses. He also offended numerous sensibilities by insisting to reporters that he sealed the records to protect their son, now 9, even though court papers indicate his political aspirations, not his son, were his principal reason for sealing the records. Thou shalt not fudge the truth with the media, either.
In other words, it’s not sex, it’s lying about it.
And even Page must concede:
It is politically ironic that Ryan found himself caught up in the new Puritanism that his party has played a central role in escalating in recent years. Even if my media colleagues had not gone to court for the papers, it would have been very hard for Ryan to have kept his skeletons in his closet.
Also, we wonder, naturally people are going to be curious as to why a hunky JFK Jr.-look alike couldn’t hold onto a babe like Jeri Ryan. If he had been married to some plain Jane, hell, this might have improved his image.
As it is, taking Seven of Nine out to sex clubs so as to have sex with people watching makes him look like a mega-geek, as if he were getting in touch with his inner Comic Book Guy (“I still can’t believe I’m married to Jeri Ryan. Hey, everybody, watch me fuck my wife, Jeri Ryan ... STUDLIEST.ME.EVER”).
His rabbity, nervous demeanor during the 20/20 interview with John Stossel (figures) did nothing to dispel this impression on our part.
posted by Sully 7/04/2004 01:19:00 PM
THE FREEDOM TO BE A HYPOCRITE ...:
So Sullivan, a longtime critic of the Human Rights Campaign for having too many lesbians running things and not proclaiming their concern about the human rights of gays in Muslim countries loudly enough for him to take notice, is now quietly linking to their anti-FMA page.
America. Gotta love it.
posted by Sully 7/04/2004 01:14:00 PM