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

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


Saturday, July 17, 2004

I’m thinking of finally sitting down and writing a real book about what I think conservatism should be.

After you get done with that magnum opus you’re always promising us on privacy, we imagine.

posted by Sully 7/17/2004 05:54:00 PM

If you haven’t already read it, here’s Joe Wilson’s response to the attempt to smear him in the Senate report.

posted by Sully 7/17/2004 12:34:00 AM

Friday, July 16, 2004

Via TBogg, we learn that World O’ Crap has really done a number on this story, noting that both the F/A’s on the plane and the federal officials the writer talks to are awfully loose with sharing what should be sensitive information about passengers with people who really shouldn’t be receiving it (and she finds at least one sympathetic reader who has his doubts). She actually clicks on a link provided by the writer and catches her in a serious distortion of a key point in her story (and, like us, gets where she’s coming from when she cites Ann Coulter as a source).
She sums it up:

So, to summarize: a woman and her hubby are scared because they see a group of Arabic men exchanging glances, and making frequent trips to the rest room. There are air marshals on board.  The plane lands safely. The men are questioned, everything checks out, and the men are released — they were merely musicians. BUT there was a report in the press saying that terrorists can assemble bombs in restrooms during a flight, and NOBODY DID ANYTHING ABOUT KEEPING THOSE ARABS FROM USING THE TOILET! She talks to federal officials, who tell her confidential stuff about their policies and procedures for handling terrorists, and give her information about the Arabs’ upcoming flight plans. Thus, we should all be really, really scared, and violate the civil liberties of swarthy men, or just go ahead and start the internment camps. Just in case.
But we have further questions about this story, assuming of course that its fundamentals are true.
First, does anyone really think terrorists would draw attention to themselves so blatantly as to speak to each other loudly in Arabic and wear jackets with Arabic script on the back? Atta and his hijackers didn’t.
Second, the sort of racial profiling the author advocates would be self-defeating. Any al-Qaa‘idah operative worth his salt planning attacks on the U.S. would be smart enough after 9/11 to know better than to use a large group of Arabs to do it. Indeed, there are some reports that al-Qaa‘idah is trying to recuit Bosnian Muslims, who look more like typical Europeans (some even have blue eyes!), to carry out its work in the West. And they may not even have to go that far ... John Walker Lindh turned down bin Laden’s offer to engage in jihad against his homeland, but you can bet there might be some other alienated Euro-American convert to fundamentalist Islam who would take him up on it. What will she say when that happens? (The writer also comes across as perplexed by the presence of Arabs ... on a flight out of a major American metropolitan area with one of the largest Arab-American populations) .
And if she wishes to see “Middle Eastern” men profiled, how will that sit with visiting Israelis? They’re Middle Eastern, too, after all. If she’s going to appeal to bigotry and fear so much, can’t she at least be honest and say “Arab men”?
Third, if the men were actually planning to carry out a terrorist plot or training for it, what purpose would be served by guarding the exits ... at 30,000 feet? Who’s going to escape either a hijacking or bomb plot that way?
Fourth, and perhaps most important to us, this whole thing might have been settled earlier if someone on the plane besides the perceived terrorists spoke Arabic. Is it that hard to learn? Hasn’t stopped us. A simple “‘afwaan, maadhaa taf‘alum?” might have been enough to get the answer that would put everyone at ease. You just know that if it were Spanish at issue, someone would have mustered up the courage to ask them the same thing. If we’re going to fight terror, we better learn to speak its language in this particular instance. Why the fear of these strange squiggly letters you read the wrong way? Once you get past that, and some of the weird sounds, it’s actually a very elegant and beautiful language delightfully free of some of the picayune grammatical hangups (like cases) that plague the acquisition of languages much more closely related to English.
(Actually, for those of you interested in doing this, one of the Iraqi bloggers that Sullivan likes, Fayrouz, includes an Arabic word or two for each and every post he makes, in both Arabic script and a rough English pronunciation. Check it out. ADDED LATER: Thanks to him we got the correct plural (hardest thing about the language; while there are plenty of common patterns for how a noun becomes plural there is no set way so you have to learn nouns in pairs, just like verbs in most Slavic languages) for sky).
All is settled as these guys really are a band going to play Vegas. But Annie will not be stopped from having her fears. Since they were OK, all that proves to her is that the terrorists are getting better at hiding themselves, and obviously they found a great disguise this time ... musicians! Yep, better add ouds to the list of things we can’t let people bring on airplanes.
(BTW, was it us or did Sullivan change the hed from “terror” to “fear” since posting it last night?)
CORRECTION: Fayrouz is a she. Oops. Nasfal.
LATER CORRECTION: Older post of hers gave us the proper Arabic word for terror, and headline duly amended.

UPDATE: s.z. has more on this if you’re interested, and thanks to her and Pharyngula we found this MetaFilter thread on the story which really brings up all the issues with it.

posted by Sully 7/16/2004 01:58:00 PM


On what issue does Santorum dissent from Vatican teaching on civil law? And by what principle would he draw that distinction? Please show me where Santorum has upheld secular values over theological ones.

Well, he did vote in favor of the war, which was not the Vatican’s position at all.

But you won’t hear Sullivan talk about that.

posted by Sully 7/16/2004 01:44:00 PM

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Since Sullivan’s still on the subject, and since we said a week ago when we saw the film we’d do something like this (and since Blogger now has a cool WYSIWYG interface we’re dying to try out), here are our thoughts on the movie.
First, it’s amusing to see right-wingers can actually behave like left-wingers had for years, counting up and meticulously posting what they believe to be correctives to every frame, just like we all once did to Rush Limbaugh et al, to about the same measureable effect. It’s obvious they’re not accustomed to playing defense.
But they certainly should be. Moore has shown very clearly in this film that the language with which the right has been sending out its message for a decade or so, in which a perception of a greater truth, one felt emotionally, instead of obsessive attention to the wrinkle of nuance, can be effectively appropriated by the left. And that scares them like nothing else has in a long time.
No one who sees this film without their mind being made up already is likely to vote for George Bush, that’s for sure.
We do have some critical things to say, of course. It’s not so much that much of the early part of the film on the Bush/Saudi connections is as speculative as critics of the movie have made it out to be, but that he doesn’t fill in the gaps as much as he should. He leaves things that those of you who have been reading or writing blogs on this side of the political spectrum for the last couple of years will know but that really should be explained in the film ... for example, the Bush-Jim Bath connection is better understood when you know that Bath was not only suspended from flying for the Texas Air Guard at the same time as Bush but was in the same exact unit.
And we do think the pipeline thing for Afghanistan is, well, a pipe dream. It requires that you believe the intricate, dubiously sourced French conspiracy theory that the Taliban were directly threatened by us with war if they didn’t go along with our terms and then gave al-Qaa‘idah the go-ahead for 9/11 as a result.
David Corn, certainly no friend of the administration, debunks that theory here largely on technical issues and particulars, but the broader issues also argue against it.
For one thing, the relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaa‘idah was more like the latter was in charge of the former ... bin Laden personally paid many of the higher Taliban officials’ salaries and had put a good deal of his own money to rebuilding what he could of Afghanistan. Somehow we doubt he would be the one to bark and roll over when Mullah Omar (remember him? Another guy we haven’t bothered to catch) asked him to.
For another, much of the evidence so far seems to suggest that 9/11 was a go even before the early August meeting where the “blanket you with bombs” threat was made. bin Laden even reportedly had originally wanted to send Atta and co. into the air in May, long before this. We seriously doubt that a man so determined to strike at the United States within the U.S. would subordinate his plans to some oil pipeline project.
And lastly, why would the Taliban engage in such a futile gesture? They would have to realize that letting Osama go ahead with 9/11 would have, under this theory, easily been traceable back to them and would have hardly improved their negotiating position ... indeed, it would have resulted in their being deposed as the country’s rulers, as it actually did.
There are also good strategic reasons for such a pipeline, whatever you think of oil companies like Unocal getting to profit from it. The countries of former Soviet Central Asia, all so desperately poor that they make many post-industrial Siberian cities look like posh American suburbs by comparison, do indeed have a lot of oil.
But in such seriously underdeveloped countries, even the sweetest crude is mostly a big brown sticky smelly mess unless you can get it to market. And that means exporting it.
Currently they have only one option: go through Russia, their longtime colonial master. A country which takes its own tolls (literally and figuratively) on these landlocked steppelands.
A pipeline to warm-water ports in Pakistan or (yes) Iran would give them much-needed independence from this situation. Russia knows this and so do we.
As detestable as some of their governments are, an efficient way of realizing oil profits might be the first step on the road to creating the kind of economic situation where there might be some serious ability to challenge the despots like Karimov and whatever that guy in Turkmenistan’s name is, the one who renamed the calendar after himself. Although China isn’t pretty yet in that department, we’ve seen what could begin to happen, and that would be a considerable improvement over the autocracies that exist in the region now.
(and, if that pipeline were really so important, wouldn’t the Bush administration have taken Afghanistan seriously enough that it wouldn’t allow the country to descend into warlord fiefdoms as it threatens to do even today?)
OK, back to the movie.
What hasn’t been mentioned, but may well prove to be significant, are the number of clips of Bush shown in this movie. It’s a tight race as to which will astonish you the most, but we think the prize goes to Bush saying, after the near-snag of bin Laden at Tora Bora (supposedly, anyway ... has anyone ever definitively proven that he was indeed there at the time?) “Terror’s more than one person ... he’s been marginalized.” Uh, George, we and most Americans expect the man responsible for the murder of almost 3,000 on our own soil to be dragged back here and executed, not marginalized.
(A close second is the white-tie fundraiser with Bush quipping “nice to be here with the haves and the have-mores ... Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.” The lines themselves are not as disturbing as the and-that’s-just-fine-by-me ease with which Bush speaks them. Under the smile, he means it).
Readers of the excellent Bush on the Couch will also find interesting the clip near the end where Bush fumblingly discusses what he’d say to someone who had lost a family member in the war ... not only for the fumbling around but for the fact that he leaves “sibling” out of the list of family members he hasn’t lost. Better proof of the centrality of his younger sister’s death in him and his psychology one cannot find.
The latter half of the movie is a lot stronger. Here, Moore shows how far he’s come since Roger & Me by backing himself out of the action mostly.
The interviews with soldiers in Iraq are effective (who got this stuff? Somehow we can’t imagine Moore himself actually going to Iraq ... like the Administration would have let him) and not only are they probably an unappreciated key to the success of the film outside the cities where one would expect it to be a hit (it gives people seeking a connection to their loved ones out in Iraq something to hold onto), it also reminded us very much of the now-neglected anti-Vietnam war classic In the Year of the Pig, which used similar takes and even the technique of having the titles on screen contradict the argument the official shown speaking is making (you think that was new to Moore? de Antonio did a lot of those things years ago) and eschewed narration.
The soldiers, and indeed all the regular Americans shown in the film, really stand in stark contrast to Bush, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz and all the other officials. It’s hard to imagine that even the most partisan red-state Republican is not going to feel at least some empathy for Lila Lipscomb, the deeply religious conservative Democrat who, in the most painful scene, reads her late son’s last letter, urging her to vote Bush out, from Iraq. Piss on this movie and you piss on her.
Ultimately, this film tells us, America’s greatest asset is its own people, who, like Langston Hughes said, continue to believe in America and its ideals despite everything that would argue to the contrary.
It’s a patriotic film at heart, and one that has the right scared shitless. They have been crowing for years about how the American people are tired of the (liberally) biased mainstream media and how the popularity of talk radio proved that they were looking for alternative viewpoints. Turns out they were right about the medium, but not necessarily the message.
ADDENDUM: Another scene that also surprised us was the interview with Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud, on the street outside the Saudi embassy chancery. We’ve been past the Watergate and JFK Center quite a few times and never realized that was where the Saudi embassy was — we would have thought they would have preferred something more secluded like, say, the French have.
As it is, one realizes just easy it would be for some determined jihadist or wacko right-wing patriotic nutjob to really put a hurtin’ on Bandar and his crew by driving a tank truck of volatile organics and just the teeniest bit of explosives into the embassy. You have a fairly long street to ramp it up on, and a target right there on the street with only minimal security barriers designed, it would seem, as antipersonnel only. It is a sitting duck.
(and apropos of that, it is a fair question about the movie, given that at points in it you actually want to do that, to ask if Moore would have been so outraged if we actually had gone to war against Saudi Arabia after 9/11, given that he makes a better case against them than Iraq).

posted by Sully 7/15/2004 11:25:00 PM


George Cerny exposes how misguided Sullivan was to assert that that Pakistan Daily Times story demonstrated any real connection between Saddam and al-Qaa‘idah.

Saddam Hussein had links with terrorists like Carlos the Jackal and Abu Nidal and groups connected to Al Qaeda, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Wednesday.


“The record of Saddam shows very well his connections to international terrorists, like Carlos and Abu Nidal,” Allawi told BBC radio. “We know for sure that he had established links with chieftains in Sudan, to work closely with Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda style organisations,” he said.

But then, if “weapons of mass destruction-related program activities” were a good enough retrojustification for a large-scale invasion of a sovereign nation ...

posted by Sully 7/15/2004 12:19:00 PM


Sebastian does the honors.

(note: this is actually a pretty subtle, and possibly understandable, goof. See the comments).

posted by Sully 7/15/2004 12:16:00 PM


While there’s nothing really wrong with Sullivan taking on the TVC, he should at least admit that he’s one of the “homosexual activists” quoted to support the TVC’s contention that gays want to get the right to marriage so they can subvert the institution, and thus civilization itself, from within.

posted by Sully 7/15/2004 12:12:00 PM

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Rich Lowry objects to my use of the shorthand phrase, “Santorum theocrats and old-school conservativess.”

Is that what Gollum calls them?


It beieves in the literal application of Biblical or Vatican views to the civil law of the United States


and have often defended the right of dividuals and groups in to uphold private discrimination against gays and voice hate-speech without fear of the law.

That one’s missing a word, too. Or it has one word too many.

posted by Sully 7/14/2004 12:38:00 PM


Andrew Sullivan today:

Here’s Richard Epstein from CATO, making the obvious case; even the Wall Street Journal has balked at the Allard-Musgrave language; and the conservative Chicago Tribune has also come out against.

(emphasis ours)

Waitaminute. Is this the same Chicago Tribune he was implying a couple of weeks ago was trying to help the Democrats by forcing Jack Ryan into a test of character he failed with faded colors?

posted by Sully 7/14/2004 12:30:00 PM


One supposes we should spot Sully a little credit for admitting that a story really wasn’t a story for once. And we do.

But at the same time it would be only fair to ask him to consider how he might have been taken in and in what tiny way he might have contributed to making this possible. Recall that not only did the original item refer to the “attack” with complete credibility, it gave Smalltown Boy the opportunity to attack Jacques Chirac for something completely unconnected, as well as another chance to make snide Nazi remarks about the Germans for an editorial that was also utterly irrelevant to the story.

As to the first point, the description of the assault sounds oddly similar to what the late Morton Downey Jr. infamously claimed had happened to him. As to the second, well, obviously, this woman probably didn’t read Andrew Sullivan’s blog and Little Green Goofballs and decide “Ou la la, today I’m going to get my boyfriend to help paint swastikas on my stomach because everyone is increasingly believing the French are reverting to Dreyfus-era antisemitism and no one will question my story and I’ll so enjoy being a victim and getting all the attention and symapthy I crave." But the fact that Sullivan completely believed it and swiftly leapt from reporting on it to bashing Chirac and the Germans speaks volumes about the pernicious effects of repeatedly propagandizing on even the propagandists themselves.

Doubtless, we’ll soon be hearing from the hawks that whether this really happened or not is, well, irrelevant since there are just so many other incidents of antisemitism that go unreported in France because the Jews there are living in too much fear to report them and this at least focused attention on the issue — you know, sort of like it’s irrelevant that we never found any WMDs in Iraq because Saddam was such a bad guy (well, the original plan was to say that we found so many WMDs that it’s moot whether any of the prewar intel was true or not, but that had to be scrapped).

UPDATE: Sebastian is pithier:

Of course, in Andrew’s case posting a correction but leaving the original post unedited ensures that some people will see it, but not know the story was bullshit. Such is life when you are a “pioneer” of the blogosphere.

That also, BTW, tripped us up a couple of weeks ago when, after returning from our break, we castigated Sullivan on his black-helicoptery linking of a former Trib board member whose son ran unsuccessfully in the Illinois GOP primary with the Trib’s pursuit of Jack Ryan’s divorce papers. We should have noted that not much later he saw his own foolishness.

posted by Sully 7/14/2004 12:11:00 PM

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


We’re a bit tardy in putting this up, but we did find this Todd Gitlin piece on how Bill Keller has fulfilled all our worst expectations as editor of the post-Raines Times to be worthy of your attention.

July brings us the one-year anniversary of Executive Editor Bill Keller’s ascension to the top job in the wake of Raines’ departure following the Jayson Blair scandal. It has not been a banner year.


The scandalous Jayson Blair fabrications were stinking fish in a barrel. The Miller problem, which is also her editors’ problem, goes to something deeper: the everyday slackness and gullibility, the on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand blah-blah and other unreflective stenography that passes for “coverage” of the most powerful government in the history of the world. Omission includes the failure to connect dots. Position means dumping the tough stuff in the back pages. Leave aside the case of the missing weapons of mass destruction and the Times has still not covered itself with glory.


Still, despite intermittent signs of catch-up in recent days, the Times has embarrassed itself in Washington — even in the eyes of some of the paper’s best and brightest. When I asked V.T. to characterize the paper's Washington coverage, the first word from his lips was “flabby.” He went on: “For all the awfulness of the way [Raines] expressed himself [in the Atlantic] — with all the adjectives he threw around, and however unfair he has been to many individuals — the idea that the place gets complacent is not crazy. It isn’t a hungry place."

One of the Times’ own investigative reporters (call him I.R.) told me: “Match the Times against The Washington Post. They’re getting their clock cleaned. It’s obvious to everyone except the top editors of The New York Times.”


The capacity for embarrassment is refreshing. Even loyalists have been disgruntled that the paper’s slogans might as well have become “Half the News, to Fit the Inside Pages” or “We’re Sort of Good Enough” or “We Don’t Know What the Facts Are, We Just Know What Powerful People Tell Us.”

Thank you, Andrew, for all your hard work in bringing this about. If you take some of the credit for creating a favorable climate for Raines’ downfall, you owe us some thoughts about this.

posted by Sully 7/13/2004 12:33:00 PM


Hoyt has the surface of a point with how Marshall has sometimes teased his readers and failed to pay off over the last two years.

But he fails to note that a) just as often Marshall’s teases have paid off (the recent TNR “July Surprise” story and William Bennett’s gambling, for starters) and b) in the case of the Enron/Tom White story, Marshall apologized to his readers when ultimately it did not pan out as he said it would (or we think he did ... we can’t find it) and c) the allegations he was referring to ultimately surfaced, in the form of the infamous Salon article by Jason Leopold in which Paul Krugman was rolled into helping the Times terminate Leopold’s career (an incident that is forgotten today but should not be).

And if Sullivan, Hoyt and their political ilk want to really get into this, what of Matt Drudge, who has already been burned twice (Kerry picking Hillary, Kerry’s purported intern affair) this year and has also got a track record of not always delivering what he promised?

(Also see Hoyt’s comments, where one sympathizer notes that William Safire did the same thing during the Clinton years).

UPDATE: Josh, without saying so, responds to Hoyt (and other warbloggers, one suspects) by citing chapter and verse from the report to prove that the French later admitted their claim was based on the same dubious documents the CIA had seen.

posted by Sully 7/13/2004 12:06:00 PM


Unfortunately that Christopher Hitchens thing isn’t a joke.

All we can say is ... sorry, Seb.

UPDATE: World O’ Crap eliminates the need to say anything else.

I think Operation “Help Hitchens Drink Himself to Death” is a great idea, and I support it 100 percent! (Support it intellectually, I mean — morally, I feel it’s the same as buying booze for alcoholic homeless people, so I won’t be donating any cash).

Anyway, I suggest the blogosphere’s next project should be Operation “Buy a Bunch of Scary Books About How Terrorists are Targeting America, Specifically Minnesota, for James Lileks.” You know, to thank him for all he does.

posted by Sully 7/13/2004 11:59:00 AM


From the Deutsche Welle editorial, in full and not the excerpt at MedienKritik (which they at least linked to).

Nobody is questioning Israel’s right to security, or its right to defend itself — not even the International Court of Justice. The court looked into the problem in great detail, and found that the construction of the 700-kilometer (425-mile) long barrier — predominantly on Palestinian soil — isn’t an acceptable security solution.


Taking refuge in domestic justice is also useless: Israel’s Supreme Court has already declared 30 kilometers of the barrier illegal, though on the whole, it shared the government’s view that the barrier will deliver better security. But it was exactly this point that was disproved on Sunday morning in Tel Aviv. This first deadly bombing in Israel since March happened despite — or perhaps even because of — the separation barrier.

And shouldn’t Germans know as well as anyone that walls don’t keep people out? Or in?

posted by Sully 7/13/2004 02:37:00 AM

Monday, July 12, 2004


Again over at Eschaton, Holden provides an answer to claims that the SSCI report “proves” Wilson lied.

As roughly 75% of those 12 pages have been redacted by the CIA, I don't understand how anyone outside of the committee can make a definitive statement about whether or not Joseph Wilson lied. The report does state (on pg. 73) that "State Department Bureau of
Intelligence and Research (INR) analysts believed that the [Wilson] report supported their assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq."

The few paragraphs that escaped the CIA’s censors make no mention of Ms. Plame recommending her husband for the Niger trip.

Those within the committee who do claim that Ambassador Wilson lied include Chairman Pat Roberts joined by Senator Christopher S. Bond, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, in what can be fairly described as a partisan rant on pp. 442-445. Note that fellow republicans Mike DeWine, Trent Lott, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel, Saxby Chambliss, and John Warner chose not to support this conclusion, nor did any of the eight democrats on the committee.

posted by Sully 7/12/2004 04:53:00 PM


Sebastian wonders why Sullivan doesn’t use Lynne Cheney’s having a lesbian daughter to upbraid her husband more firmly for supporting the FMA.

posted by Sully 7/12/2004 03:42:00 PM


Holden, one of this summer’s Gang of Four or So subbing for Atrios at Eschaton, writes:

Shorter Andy: The War on Iraq is unjustifiable, but I’m glad we fought it.

And Jo Fish holds the sarcasm:

We? Hardly. It was them, wasn’t it Sullivan, the men and women you refer to as your paid servants. Because “we” implies me and I’m hardly glad for preemptive war, or any other kind of war where there was never a clear and present threat to America; you know like what is posed by Osama bin Forgotten, the man conveniently forgotten by Fearless Leader.

Oh, and Andy ... happy FMA in the Senate day are all your Commander Codpiece dreams coming true? You do after all, love him, does he love you too?

posted by Sully 7/12/2004 03:34:00 PM


After reading that Guardian piece on boycotts (which the paper seems to be reminding us is something they are merely reporting on, not endorsing), we think Sullivan completely missed the tongue planted in cheek. Particularly on this item:


Why? Exploitative trade practices

As the Finnish Centre for Health Promotion is keen to point out, drugs - and cocaine in particular - are not only harmful and illegal, they are also unethical. Coca farmers are often coerced into the trade and usually receive less than 1% of the retail price of a gram of cocaine. The Finns therefore began a campaign in 2002, entitled Huume Boikotti, which calls for everybody to eschew cocaine on the grounds that it harms the environment, supports the abuse of human rights and threatens many Andean Indians' traditional way of life. Boycotting coke is not enough, they add; you should also buy fair-trade products where possible. "The idea is to bring a new perspective to the discourse on drugs, to expose the problems and inequities relating to drug traffic," says the website, which has so far raised €2,534.25 "to support the traditions of Q'eros and other Andean peoples".

They say: No representatives of the cocaine trade were available for comment.

And perhaps Sullivan would sign on to this?


Why? Banning gay sex

Under a law passed last month by the government of Zanzibar, men found having gay sex on the semi-autonomous Tanzanian island can expect to receive a 25-year life sentence. The legislation would also jail any women convicted of lesbian sex for up to seven years. In response, the gay rights organisation OutRage has called for gay people not to visit the island."I would hope both gay and straight travellers will boycott Zanzibar," says OutRage activist Peter Tatchell.

A spokesperson at the Tanzanian embassy in London says: “Culturally, homosexuality is not normal for the people of Zanzibar. Gay people from other countries are welcome to visit, but they must respect the laws of the country.”

Or maybe Smalltown Boy would just find a way to support the Zanzibari president despite this.

posted by Sully 7/12/2004 03:28:00 PM


Again, Sullivan forgets to give us a link to this Lebanese paper he doesn’t bother to name, to allow us to better assess the context in which this might be said.

Perhaps he’s learned the wrong lesson from the constant exposure of how he regularly decontextualizes things he quotes from elsewhere.

UPDATE: And guess what? We found it, in the Lebanon Daily Star as we expected.

As one would expect, what Sullivan leaves out says more than what he excerpted. Let him, for instance, defend clutching this asp to his bosom:

Moore has presented a detailed account of the Iraq war without mentioning Israel in any way, without using the word neoconservative and without any reference to the massive paper trail demonstrating a pre-existing agenda, which placed the overthrow of the Iraqi regime at the center of both US and Israeli policies.

Moore's audience never hears about the 1996 “Clean Break” paper presented to then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by several people who are now influential policymakers in the Bush administration, including Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, and their guru, Richard Perle. Nor are they told about many other key documents, such as the 1998 Project for a New American Century letter to then-President Bill Clinton demanding “military action” from the US to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The letter was signed by current administration figures Donald Rumsfeld, Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Zalmay Khalilzad and, of course, Paul Wolfowitz.

(You’ll find Quiddity Quack making the same point here). OK, so nothing wrong on its face, but remember that among the neocons critcism of Israel for anything other than being insufficiently hawkish = antisemitism. Especially from Arabs.

And the writer concludes:

Moore may or may not affect the election, but he has certainly succeeding in bringing to a great many Americans the most powerful critique of US foreign policy they have already heard, albeit one that rests on a bizarre and incoherent conspiracy theory and which confuses at least as much as it enlightens.

Emphasis ours (see, if we were Sullivan, we’d pretend the final clause didn’t exist).

UPDATE: Steve Brady on how Sullivan ties himself in knots with this one.

ADDENDUM: As the Lebanese writer ought to know, the Saudis’ public opposition to the Afghan and Iraq adventures means little. They have to present one face to the Arab world and do another thing where their real interests are concerned. Consider that while they have talked the toughest on their Israel boycott, they have also been the first to waive it if they needed whatever, say, AT&T was offering. Consider also that they are often the first to waive any OPEC limits that they themselves might have pushed for when they need the money.

Perhaps, given that they had been one of the few states to extend diplomatic recognition to the Taliban government, they might have genuinely cared there, but given that the Taliban had been sheltering bin Laden and that an official had mocked Saudi compliance with American requests when one of the princes visited him one has to think they were thinkinhg “good riddance to bad rubbish” when bombs began to fall on Kabul.

As for Iraq, can one seriously think the Saudis are unhappy with a move that, as painful as it was for Arabs in another country, removed a dictator who’d threatened them once before and got most American troops out of their country, possibly for good?

If they really didn’t want either the Iraq or Afghan wars to happen, they had plenty of ways of making them more difficult or impossible for us. They never lifted a finger.

posted by Sully 7/12/2004 03:05:00 PM


J. Jonah Goldberg’s “response” to Josh Marshall’s insistence that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was violated by leaking Valerie Plame’s name to Robert Nofacts is, even by Goldberg’s standards, so weak that it leads one to appreciate the depth of the friendship between Goldberg and Sullivan, as there is just no way that any rational person would even link to it, much less suggest it constituted the stronger argument.

Short version of Jonah’s arugment: I’m so annoyed by Josh’s snarky characterization and effective dismissal of our chief argument that I’m just going to rephrase it and not really care if anyone notices.

Really short version of Jonah’s argument: Go fuck yourself, asshole.

Of course, some things deserve some careful attention and specific criticism.

Interestingly, Jonah starts off by acknowledging, if dismissively, longstanding liberal Democratic criticism of comically truth-impaired Washington Post “reporter” Susan “Stenographer Sue” Schmidt (and, O Brothers and Sisters of the Mighty Casio, is it not way past high time that someone started a “Schmidt Watch” blog? Hey, we’ll even give you a title to work with: BullSchmidt).

But then he says:

[A]lways refreshing to have liberals complain about the pro-Republican bias of the Washington Post

Wait a minute. Isn’t the crux of conservative complaints about media bias that the media should be “fair and balanced”? Isn’t bias of any kind in a nominally impartial and objective media outlet a bad thing?

Jonah phrases this statement in such a way as to suggest that:

1) Yes, liberals are right, the Washington Post is in significant measure biased in favor of the GOP (we would assume that means the editorial page as long suspected; but not, say, the work of reporters like Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus).

2) Said bias (in favor of Republicans) is just fine with him and his, notwithstanding that it completely negates all our past complaints about media unfairness, since obviously we only cared about the direction of the bias, not the bias itself.

3) Conservative complaints about media bias are really just a way of herding them to the right and not about ensuring a level playing field.

Also, Jonah declines to defend Schmidt, suggesting that Josh’s “Mikey” characterization of her is dead accurate and that she is indeed a Mighty Wurlitzer asset.

Jonah then not-so-deftly changes the issue:

But assuming Marshall is correct about the law, am I alone in thinking he’s being disingenuous? Marshall’s been banging the drums about the Plame story for a very long time. The essence of the entire scandal has been the contention that the White House deliberately endangered a CIA agent’s life in order to punish Wilson. Must we recount all of the paranoid pieties about how “this White House will stop at nothing to silence its enemies”?

Unfuckingbelievable. Just unfuckingbeleivable.

Jonah, really, you should have really reread this and reconsidered posting. It pains even us to see you sink to such intellectual depths.

For really, there is no way to parse this passage other than: “So what what the law says if it gets in the way of the neocon agenda?” One is reminded of a statement by a Stalin-era secret policeman reported in The Gulag Archipelago (one of our favorite books for hitting neocons over the head with, in case you haven’t already noticed): “If we followed Soviet law, we would never establish communism.”

There is also this thing called journalism, by which if you are discussing something, you try to find the direct source. On the Internet, a blogger can do this very easily with Google. And it didn’t take us at all long to find the text of the IIPA itself.

And Josh is correct. The language could not be plainer:





Sec. 421. Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources

a) Disclosure of information by persons having or having had access to classified information that identifies covert agent

Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) Disclosure of information by persons who learn identity of covert agents as result of having access to classified information

Whoever, as a result of having authorized access to classified information, learns the identify of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Now, there are some defenses.

It is a defense to a prosecution under section 421 of this title that before the commission of the offense with which the defendant is charged, the United States had publicly acknowledged or revealed the intelligence relationship to the United States of the individual the disclosure of whose intelligence relationship to the United States is the basis for the prosecution.


It shall not be an offense under section 421 of this title to transmit information described in such section directly to the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate or to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.


It shall not be an offense under section 421 of this title for an individual to disclose information that solely identifies himself as a covert agent.

There. There’s also a carefully-worded exception that, without saying as much, exempts journalists from such prosecution unless they intentionally expose such identities or do so outside of the course of their journalistic activities (as Novak may well have done by blabbing to some friends on the street before his column ran).

But there is nothing in there to even remotely justify the exposure of an agent’s identity in order to (and this is putting things in the most favorable light for neocons) allow the public to more accurately assess the impartiality of an agent’s spouse. Josh’s point isn’t a “legalism,” Jonah, it’s THE LAW ... you know, something that back around 1998 conservatives couldn’t stop talking about enough (although they embraced a definition of perjury that conveniently seemed to elide the case law that says literally-true-but-misleading answers are not perjury, nor that questions must be very precisely phrased and unambiguous if the answers elicited are to be perjurious).

Naturally, he has to admit this, but wishes he didn’t have to. So maybe Valerie and Joe are less-than-perfect martyrs. But they are martyrs nonetheless. Perhaps Jonah should look back at the right’s embrace of such disreputable characters as Linda Tripp, Paula Jones and David Hale if he wishes to understand how this situation came to pass.

Jonah’s answer, when you come down to it, is really no different from Homer Simpson muttering “Stupid anti–fist-shaking law!!” as he and his family are forced to hop a freight to Delaware after he menaces an airline clerk over a tax he refuses to pay, to use the sort of analogy which gets Sullivan and Goldberg thought of as outré among conservatives.

UPDATE: Steve Brady says all this and more.

“Intentionally” in this context is very literal. It simply applies to the disclosure. The other important language is “knowing.” I find it hard to imagine someone having this information and not knowing that Plame was a covert agent, because that’s the whole point. If the defense is that they were trying to identify nepotism, then the fact that she’s in the CIA is the substance of that nepotism. And of course, that’s not a defense to the crime.

What Goldberg fails to supply is a motive for Wilson and Plame creating this conspiracy to undermine the facts (that doesn’t mean there couldn't be one). Everyone is talking about how the Niger “16 words” might have been true. That’s irrelevant. The White House admitted that they shouldn’t have been in there. So Wilson did embarass them, which creates a motive for someone in the administration to shoot back.

Meanwhile, Goldberg basically implies that the White House had no other way to rebut Wilson the partisan hack’s attacks, other than to say “his wife recommended him.” How about responding on the merits, instead of trying to smear him?

posted by Sully 7/12/2004 02:12:00 PM

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