Saturday, November 13, 2004
FORGET THE KERRY VOTE ... HE SINKS EVER LOWER:So the family is not the foundation of our society? And we're supposed to worry that freedom may be on the march? The left's estrangement from America continues.
As Andrew Sullivan’s from the intellectual ability to understand sarcasm for what it is.
There was a time when we’d have expected this only from a drooling Freeper.
And if he’s being disingenuous in the hopes of getting links from a few of them, it won’t work.
posted by Sully 11/13/2004 01:04:00 PM
Friday, November 12, 2004
RED, BLUE AND GREEN:
OK, so let’s take the Generosity Index at initial face value.
Then go to this post over at Daily Kos, in which a deep-cover left-wing operative goes into the religious right in Nevada, and take this into account:These folks tithe, or dedicate a portion of their annual income, and if the church gathers up enough folks the money begins to flow in tax free ... My cousin was a real ultra-serious wingnut the first time I came out to visit the family in Nevada. The first time he got into financial trouble and couldn’t just dole out time and money to his evangelical church, they turned on him. They shunned his kids and humiliated his wife (about her being overweight when they had ‘no’ money for their obligations) in front of all of their friends ... You can come, you can go, but if you come you are more than likely going to be cutting these people checks on a regular basis for this kind of stuff.
Now let’s go back to the Catalogue for Philanthropy’s website, specifically the page where they explain the index. There you learn that the index is creating by taking the state’s average annual adjusted gross income and relating it to the average annual itemized tax deductions on tax returns where such deductions are itemized.
Do you see the problem with this?
If you don’t, remember first of all that the standard deduction is $2,000, and only if you have (most) itemizable deductions that exceed that amount can you itemize them and report them.
This needlessly biases the subject population toward the higher brackets, for one thing. For another, it strikes us as a very general, simplistic proxy for measuring charity, one many economists or statisticians could see even more problems with than we just did (Is there any indication that the stats are weighted to account for, say, the percentage of taxpayers in each state who itemize?)
That’s because, you realize, this is about philanthropy, which is not the same thing as charity. Philanthropy is about getting your name in gold lettering on the side of the new hospital wing; charity is about a few extra loaves for the local soup kitchen.
And the CfP also has an agenda that should be accounted for here:The Generosity Index™ (GI) was conceived in 1997 as a concise way to summarize Massachusetts’ and New England’s greatest problem in philanthropy: that we have the nation’s largest gap between our ranks in income and our ranks in charitable giving. The Generosity Index, with its “catchy” name, publicizes that fact and provides a way to monitor progress against the problem.
Gee. You think they might have a reason to make Massachusetts and the other New England states look bad?
Even using tax data alone, we can think of a better way to assess charitable inclinations. Many (but not all) charities are 501(c)(3) organizations that have to file Form 990s every year with the IRS, certainly one could go through that on a state-by-state basis (particularly with organizations like the Red Cross or Salvation Army that have fairly popular agendas and chapters in every state) and then compare to something like per-household income in the state in question (also adjusting for a different state tax burden, of course). We think that might give you a better answer to the question, though we have no idea what it is.
And to finally bring in that piece above, that kind of private taxation is going to spike many middle-income taxpayers into itemization country and of course skew the numbers toward the red states in question. Would it be possible to look at the data if contributions to religious or related organizations were separated from non-religious ones? Then it might look different.
Of course, P O’Neill finds a better indicator than anything economics could give you.
posted by Sully 11/12/2004 11:53:00 PM
COULD HAVE BEEN SPEEDIER ON GONZALES:
All this stuff on Gonzales’ rubber-stamp reviews of capital cases was available for review, and indeed brought up back when he was appointed White House counsel in the first place.
But, of course, back then it was only brought up Bush-haters, and therefore wasn’t true.
posted by Sully 11/12/2004 01:02:00 PM
ALTERMAN ON SULLIVAN, CHOMSKY, THE BUTT RUB, AND THE IRAQI CASUALTY FIGURES:
Atrios linked, and Eric wrote about everything else Sullivan did, and said, on Bill Maher:
Speaking of people offering a lot of free advice, I suppose Andy Sullivan is not really a slobbering, muttering idiot in real life but he sure does play one on TV. I’ve never seen Bill Maher’s show before — and thankfully, the Time Warner DVR stopped taping before he started grabbing his ass, but I was embarrassed for Andy, if that can be believed, when he started screaming nonsensical insults at an absent Noam Chomsky, (with whom I strongly disagree on almost everything, for the record). I didn’t take notes but I recall Andy whining about Chomsky’s speaking fees — hey it’s just the free market that makes them so much higher than Andy’s—and mine, for that matter. And his screaming that there can be no debate over the meaning of words like “freedom” and “democracy” was so silly it refutes itself. Also unfortunate for Andy was his insistence that, and again, I paraphrase, “no one in the world accepts the figure of 100,000 Iraqis dead,” which Chomsky used in his interview with Maher. Well, actually, if you look at Little Roy's blog today, you’ll see that the only peer reviewed study of the issue—given the fact that the U.S. government refuses even to attempt this count — gives just that figure. Today, Andy is a bit more circumspect in his language and calls the figure “a little fishy.” The Economist is also critical. To tell you the truth, I think it’s high too. But the “no one in the world” quote is simple idiocy and cedes the argument to Chomsky, since he actually has a source and Andy only has his insults.
Oh yeah, this is what might be called the “money quote.” Right after Maher interviewed Chomsky, Andy turned to Maher and said, “That’s why you lost the election.” Maybe it’s me but I didn’t realize that the Democrats had nominated Noam Chomsky as their candidate. In fact, I didn’t even know he was one of their advisers, or played any role in the campaign, or that any one who did even spoke to him or had a good word to say about anything related to his abilities as a foreign policy analyst. I also thought Andy actually voted for the guy who did run; you know, the one who didn’t have the platform that not only endorsed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage but also insisted on banning all civil unions. Some people seem to think that the Democrats’ refusal to condemn people like Andy was the reason they lost the election in that heartland with which he professes to be in such close contact. I suppose I don’t blame him for blaming MIT Linguistic professors instead.
posted by Sully 11/12/2004 10:27:00 AM
Thursday, November 11, 2004
NOTHING TOO SHORT TO FISK:The military seems to have ignored many of its own counter-insurgency guidelines in taking back Falluja.
Well, when you have an administration that throws practicality and ethics and diplomacy out the window in the interests of its Greater Israel Co-Prosperity Sphere, what else would you expect to happen?
Not to mention calling back the Marines in the first place last April because this supposedly morally resolute administration cold feet over the effect of continued footage of casualties during an election campaign. They were winning, albeit at high cost, and victory could at least have squelched a key rallying point for the insurgency and its leaders (although the only reason we went in there to begin with was because a bunch of right-leaning, personally combat-averse webloggers Stateside got all riled up after those mercs got burned), but we called the Marines and their snipers off.Still, 600 dead mujahideen is a start.
Ho ho ho. We think we heard once a similar punchline to “what do you call a thousand lawyers on the bottom of the ocean?”
But before you let loose your latest hackneyed rib-tickler read what Riverbend, somewhat closer and a good deal more clued in than we are, has to say about that.So far, boys and men between the ages of 16 and 60 aren’t being counted as “civilians” in Falloojeh. They are being rounded up and taken away ... Also, being a “civilian” is a relative thing in a country occupied by Americans. You’re only a civilian if you're on their side. If you translate for them, or serve them food in the Green Zone, or wipe their floors — you’re an innocent civilian. Everyone else is an insurgent, unless they can get a job as a “civilian.”
In other words, just because they’re Iraqi and we killed them does not necessarily make them muj.
posted by Sully 11/11/2004 11:31:00 PM
A MISTAKE BY THE EDITOP:Rrivately, however, even the Vatican says that Arafat blew it by choosing violence over a peace-deal in 2000.UPDATE:That’s what some on the left thinks.
posted by Sully 11/11/2004 11:30:00 PM
AND HE DARES TO CRITICIZE BIG MEDIA FOR ITS DISDAIN?:
First, it might help to get the Index writer’s first name right (Rohan, not Johan); it would also be polite to link to his actual response, instead of a post by someone you’re rewarding for slavishly sucking up to you.
posted by Sully 11/11/2004 11:27:00 PM
RALL IN THIS TOGETHER:
Excuse us, but we somehow doubt that Rall changed the mind of any of the few people who read him regularly who were planning to vote for either Bush or Kerry.
And, as Sullivan himself would say, read the full quote (with emphasis on what Sullivan left out):So our guy lost the election. Why shouldn’t those of us on the coasts feel superior? We eat better, travel more, dress better, watch cooler movies, earn better salaries, meet more interesting people, listen to better music and know more about what’s going on in the world. If you voted for Bush, we accept that we have to share the country with you. We’re adjusting to the possibility that there may be more of you than there are of us. But don’t demand our respect. You lost it on November 2.
posted by Sully 11/11/2004 11:23:00 AM
A CURIOUS OMISSION:
In Arjan Dasselar’s quote you will see the only acknowledgement of the backlash against Dutch Muslims in the wake of Theo van Gogh’s murder on Sullivan’s blog.
Vasselar, to his credit, has not ignored this. But if Sullivan says he isn’t letting go of the story, doesn’t he owe us the full story?
posted by Sully 11/11/2004 11:16:00 AM
A MORE OR LESS RHETORICAL QUESTION:
If Michael Moore, about whom much of the same things could be, and indeed have been said, by Sullivan and others, was stabbed to death viciously by a crazed Freeper with a hit list, do you think Sullivan would have any trouble with an argument that Moore wanted it to end that way for political reasons?
We don’t think so either.
Aside from that, look at some of the text Sullivan left out:
The September 11 attacks on the US set the perfect stage for Van Gogh, a man who addictively cultivated controversy. Holland had looked on its million non-white and Muslim fellow citizens and cried out with fear, so Van Gogh made films and wrote books that celebrated this horror.
He reminded them that gedogen had failed. Like Fortuyn he sought out his fiercest critics and provoked them into maddened fury. Cleverly he would often seek out the most extreme and ignorant opponents for his public battles, reinforcing the perception that only the extreme and ignorant opposed him.
The result, to use a word that doesn’t need translating into Dutch, was bullshit. In the wake of Fortuyn’s death and across Van Gogh’s stage came some of the most ardently stupid opinions in Europe.
Dutch politicians, social scientists, policemen, teachers, journalists, all fell over themselves to reduce complex issues of migration, race, religion and social responsibility to idiot sloganeering.
The late mayor of Tilburg, Johan Stekelenburg, said that in the case of black people of Caribbean descent, the law “should not be slavishly followed.” Dutch supermarket tycoon Jan Blokker called on police to launch an ‘arms race’ with black robbers. Rotterdam police chief Jan Wiarda tore up 500 years of Dutch jurisprudence and urged judges to single out non-white defendants for tougher sentences — on the grounds that they could expect worse in their former home countries. Instead of the sack he got ministerial support. [link added from list at bottom of page – SW]
These cretinous positions were then celebrated by the Dutch media for their supposed defiance of censorship. The European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations has reported that Dutch media coverage of minorities is one-sided, negative and tends to focus on their lack of Dutch language skills rather than their real social problems.
The idea that poverty and racism might have a part was dismissed as ‘political correctness.’ Non-white Dutch families are three times more likely than white ones to live on below average incomes. A quarter of non-white working-age Dutch citizens were on social security in December 2000. The Dutch justice ministry reported that the jobless rate among non-western immigrants was about 10 percent in 2002, compared with about three percent among ‘native’ Dutch.
It’s a fact of life. The right to free speech includes the right to freely speak crap. Fortuyn founded a land where the spoken language is bullshit and where van Gogh is its poet laureate.
Not only does this put it in a different perspective, the comments about Fortuyn’s death (which, one recalls, was not ultimately the responsibility of Muslim fundamentalists) are equally applicable to The Blog Queen’s outgassings on that matter (he famously predicted, as you may recall, that Fortuyn, struck down, would become more powerful than you can imagine. Instead, his hastily assembled party collapsed barely six months later, bringing down the government in the process (always the way to the hearts of citizens of a parliamentary democracy) when its top two leaders could no longer even speak to each other).
As usual, always click on the link.
posted by Sully 11/11/2004 10:52:00 AM
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
ALREADY DONE THAT:
With his post about the Bush mandate, Sullivan as usual missed the chance to pick up on the latest Googlebomb.
(We, of course, are happy to).
And is it a Freudian slip, or is he just being his usual sloppy self when he writes “but” for “bit”?
UPDATE 11/12: RU F’in Kiddin’ Me reminds us that this is even lamer.
posted by Sully 11/10/2004 08:41:00 PM
THIS JUST ABOUT SUMS IT UP:Extra-legal tactics like Gavin Newsom’s particularly rankle. I wasn’t sanguine about this at the time but minimized it because I was so swept up in the emotion of seeing gay couples finally getting the respect they deserve.He’s going to be the last person to see the connection between that and his disllusionment with the war. If he ever does.
posted by Sully 11/10/2004 01:05:00 PM
STALIN’S HEIRS TODAY, YET AGAIN:
“[T]he wreckers loose in our own society are stronger, more
confident, and more numerous.”– Derb, as quoted by Sully.... The Sentinel of the Revolution narrowed its eyes with even greater vigilance — and wherever it directed its narrow gaze it immediately discovered a nest of wreckers ... The GPU puffed and panted in its efforts to grab off and drag off the “wreckers.” In the capitals and in the provinces, GPU collegiums and proletarian courts kept hard at work, sifting through this viscous sewage ...– Solzhenitsyn again, from The Gulag Archipelago, Volume I, Book 1, Chapter 2, “The History of Our Sewage Disposal System,”p. 44.
They call themselves Christian apostles, but they do not speak in tongues. Just one.
Russian with a Georgian accent.
posted by Sully 11/10/2004 11:36:00 AM
FLAT IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE:
One of our original beefs with Sullivan was his long-on-passion, short-on-substance defense of the flat tax in Slate years ago (Or was it Salon? No, as it turns out, it was in the Times magazine).
Sometime before, though, Jonathan Chait had written this excellent critique of the flat tax and its effect on businesses in Sullivan’s old mag. Sullivan never addressed many of the points it made ... it wouldn’t surprise us, in fact, if he knew he couldn’t.
This is after the standard (and totally valid) liberal critique of the idea’s inherent regressivity.Indeed, he directly addressed Sullivan’s most utopian and laughable argument.
A National Tax Journal article by Boston University law professor Alan Feld argues that “the flat tax cannot achieve all its goals of a simple statute and simple taxpayer reporting.” Feld then proceeds to detail some of the flat tax’s many, many gray areas. Some of the scams are simple: businesses would have incentives to label expenditures as capital purchases — money invested in equipment that would increase production — since capital investment would be deductible under a flat tax.
Similarly, firms would want to label cash inflows as interest income, which would not count as income. They would have an incentive to merge with financial institutions, which have lots of interest income, for use as tax shelters. They could buy their employees cars in lieu of salary, and deduct the cost as a business expense.
But the flat-taxers seem utterly unprepared to deal with the wrenching changes that would ensue from radical tax overhaul. Take health care. Right now, employers can deduct the cost of providing health coverage to their employees, and the workers don’t have to pay tax on the value of that coverage. So if your boss gives you a dollar in wages, by the time you finish paying federal, state, and local taxes, it will be worth about sixty cents or so. But if he spends a dollar on your health plan, it will still be worth a dollar. That gives employers a large incentive to pay their employees in untaxed fringe benefits instead of taxable wages. This subsidy is far from ideal. It encourages people to buy more expensive health care than they need, and it ties health coverage to employment. Eliminating this deduction, then, makes sense if you replace it with something — say, for instance, a universal health insurance plan financed by the government. But the flat tax eliminates the deduction and replaces it with nothing: the savings just go toward lower tax rates.
This could mean a health-care cataclysm for the lower-middle class. Jonathan Gruber and James Poterba, economists at MIT, estimate that the flat tax would cause between six and 14 million people to lose their health insurance — and that might be a conservative estimate. Right now, employee-based insurance offers protection to workers with higher health-care risks. It costs an employer the same to cover a healthy 25-year-old as it does to cover a sick 55-year-old. That pools together high-risk cases with low-risk cases, forcing the young to subsidize the old. The young stay in the pool, anyway, because it’s still cheap for them to get health coverage through their employer. But, under the flat tax, the young and healthy would have no incentive to purchase coverage through work — in fact, it would be cheaper to go it alone. The whole ball of crosss-subsidies could unravel, splintering the market into healthy and unhealthy pools, with prohibitively high insurance costs for those who need insurance the most.
Flat-tax advocates appear similarly blithe when it comes to
eliminating the charitable deduction, which would deprive funding to nonprofit organizations. “The American people do not need to be bribed by the tax code to give,” says Steve Forbes. This is a rather odd statement coming from Forbes, since like other supply-siders, he believes Americans need to be bribed to do anything. Flat-taxers view people as finely calibrated computers of marginal utility, ultrasensitive to the slightest change in marginal tax rates. These are the same politicians who believe that a few percentage points' difference in the capital gains tax would cause enough behavioral change to make the difference between untold prosperity and a severe depression. But, apparently, dropping the charitable deduction from 100 percent to zero wouldn’t change giving patterns at all.
The flat-taxers’ utter disregard for consequences extends even to their good ideas. Under the current tax code, homeowners can deduct the cost of mortgage payments, but renters can't deduct the cost of rent; this $60 billion-a-year deduction compels renters to subsidize middle-class property owners. The flat tax would eliminate that deduction, which would obviously hurt homeowners and help everybody else. The proper response to the complaints of homeowners is that they don’t deserve special treatment. But the flat-taxers haven’t made this argument. Indeed, they refuse to even acknowledge the complaint. When Armey appeared on the Oliver North Show, a caller mentioned that the housing industry would fight the flat tax. He responded not by defending his position, but by denying the very possibility of conflict. “No they won’t,” Armey interjected, “their lobby will.” Apparently, the flat-taxers cannot even stand up to lobbies with the weakest claim to the public trough. Indeed, the Kemp Commission on Tax Reform — appointed by Bob Dole last year to determine a Republican tax policy — waffled on keeping the mortgage interest deduction in the flat tax.
Flat-taxers boldly predict that they will banish tax lobbyists from the corridors of Washington forever. Yet Congress’s most enthusiastic flat-taxers happen to be the same people who have been most solicitous of tax lobbyists. “A flat tax will not end lob bying activity,” writes William Gale of the Brookings Institution, “it will just start the game over at a new starting point.”
We couldn’t agree more. Corporations do not lobby for tax breaks because they wish to point up the unfairness and unworkability of the tax code. They do it because they want to make more money. Period.
Nor can we really imagine the real power on taxation issues, the business community, going for it when this scenario is a distinct possibility.So suppose tnr bought a factory last year for $100 million and planned to deduct $5 million a year from our taxes every year for the next 20 years. (Yes, I know this leaves out interest.) But then suddenly this year, Congress enacts a flat tax, under which you deduct capital costs only in the year they were made. Now tnr’s out the $95 million it would have deducted over the next two decades. Meanwhile, if Newsweek also bought a $100 million factory, but waited until this year to do it, it could deduct the entire $100 million from its tax bill immediately. tnr would face a competitive disadvantage for completely arbitrary reasons.Slate, as it turns out, was where James Surowiecki critiqued Sullivan’s original piece, with an ensuing debate between the two of them that mainly focuses on the concept of equality and leaves aside the practical issues Chait raised.
Hall and Rabushka estimated in their book that the flat tax would cause General Motors’s annual tax bill to soar from $110 million to $2.7 billion. Other, less capital-intensive companies would receive enormous tax cuts. In practice, Congress and the public would never stand for this. Congress would have to introduce transition rules to ease the impact on old wealth.
The adopting of transition rules might sound like a minor detail. But to economists it’s the whole ball game. Once you adopt transition rules, the one-time tax on existing wealth disappears, which means higher tax rates on everything else. And once you remove existing wealth from the tax base, all that's left to tax is wages. A wage tax is simply an income tax that doesn't tax investment income. Since a wage tax has a narrower base than an income tax, it has to have higher rates to raise the same amount of revenue. "The same studies that show a consumption tax (that taxes all old capital) is more efficient than an income tax also show that a wage tax is less efficient than an income tax," writes Gale. In other words, we would have the worst of all worlds — less equity and less efficiency. A smaller pie, divided up less evenly.
UPDATE: Anonymous Blogger, whom we had thought was dormant, pipes up on this one too.Does this guy actually think about what he writes? He
goes on about how awful progressive taxation is and how it is “unequal treatment,” but endorses the unequal treatment of focusing government spending on the under-privileged. Does he somehow think that a focus on the under-privileged is equal treatment of all privilege levels?
Really, I want to think this guy isn’t a total fuck-up, but good lord, he makes it impossible.
Speaking of which, it’s amazing what a diservice it is to our discourse to have complete morons with strong writing abilities running around pontificating about various topics. Their arguments sound much more convincing than they rightfully deserve.
posted by Sully 11/10/2004 10:53:00 AM
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
WE GOT A GREAT BIG EGO BLOGGING ON THROUGH THE NIGHT ... BLOGGER, O BLOGGER, AIN’T THAT A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT?:
We can’t remember (or rediscover) where it was this afternoon we first found the link but here’s a piece by veteran CBS newsman Eric Engberg on the gap between exit polls and results that, in the process, takes Sullivan’s blog triumphalism down a peg or two:One of the more self-important of these blog-ops, Andrew Sullivan, declared in a newspaper article in September that the internet upstarts had become, along with cable-TV, the new “powerbrokers in American politics and culture,” primed to unseat “old media.” In another piece he compared the new and old thusly: “Critics of blogs cite their lack of professionalism. Piffle. The dirty little secret of journalism is that it really isn’t a profession, it’s a craft. All you need is a telephone and a conscience and you’re all set.” That hubris was rampant through much of blogland as election night rolled round.
“The national number that’s floating around right now: 51/49 K/B,” wrote Wonkete, aka Ana Marie Cox. After repeating some of Wonkette’s numbers, Sullivan mused, “A Kerry landslide? Could be. Could be.” He cautioned the numbers could be misleading, even as he was publicizing them. This is the kind of stuff we used to run in my aforementioned school paper, when the speculation surrounded who was going steady. The difference is that the bloggers aspire to being a force in our public life and claim to be at the forefront of a newpolitical-media era. It was clear to me, from following their efforts that night, that, unlike journalists, some blog operators who are quick to trash the MSM not only don’t care about the veracity of the stories they are spreading,
they do not understand when there is a live hand grenade on their keyboard. They appear not to care. Their concern is for controversy and “hits.”
The public is now assaulted by news and pretend-news from many directions, thanks to the now infamous “information superhighway.” But the ability to transmit words, we learned during the Citizens Band radio fad of the 70’s, does not mean that any knowledge is being passed along. One of the verdicts rendered by election night 2004 is that, given their lack of expertise, standards and, yes, humility, the chances of the bloggers replacing mainstream journalism are about as good as the parasite replacing the dog it fastens on.
Ouch. Make that three notches.
Think this isn’t payback for his adolescent attack on Rather, who just might still be friendly with Engberg? Let’s see if he responds.
posted by Sully 11/09/2004 11:46:00 PM
Monday, November 08, 2004
SO RAW AND MUSCLED, HE NEEDS TO MAKE SURE YOU DON’T MISS IT UNDER KHAKI:
Normally when we see a post with the title “Sullivan’s Ass,” we think first of ... well, you know the drill.
But courtesy of Atrios, we get a chance to show you something even more, uh, we’re not sure interesting’s the right word.
First, James Wolcott, about whom enough good things cannot be said, had his own take on Sullivan’s appearance on Maher and attempt to go to town on Chomsky:
Like an infant banging his spoon on the high-chair tray, Sullivan threw quite a tantrum last night after Maher had the GALL to interview Noam Chomsky. Sullivan sputtered that Chomsky made “millions” going around the world telling audiences America was “evil.” Now I don’t pretend to have read or heard all of the millions of words Chomsky has written and spoken, but “evil” doesn’t seem to be a prominent word in his vocabulary, being so theological; he tends to talk in terms of brutal realpolitick and self-interest. And it’s highly unlikely he’s raking in “millions” — if he is, he isn’t splurging on wardrobe and pimpmobiles.
Since every war criminal in the current Bush administration will be able to command huge honoraria on the lecture circuit and lucrative positions on corporate boards once they leave the bloodshed behind, working up ire over a professor’s speaking fees seems a bit much.
Unable to impart the red depths of Chomsky’s villainy to host and panel, Sullivan attacked Chomsky for being symptomatic of an
America-hating elitist left. “That’s why you lost this week!” Sullivan said.
“You said you voted for Kerry!” Maher shot back. “You lost too!”
And in one blow Maher (who was in brilliant form in the last part of the show) illuminated the twisted self-contradictions of Sullivan, who can upbraid someone for making the same choice he did.
That’s the great thing about this blog, that there are so many people who see Sullivan for what he is that they can help you out without you even asking when you miss something.
And if that was all Wolcott had done, this post would end here. Digby also adds:Andrew Sullivan’s outburst about Chomsky was uncomfortably out of sync with what Chomsky had said. I’m no particular fan (or student) of Chomsky, but his actual influence on lives here and around the world is somewhat less real and palpable than that of the people who just voted to enshrine Sullivan's second-class citizen status into their state constitutions. I can’t help but feel that this enraged reaction may have been just a bit of desperate psychological misdirection ...
But it gets better.
Wolcott kept his eyes open:
The strangest thing in the broadcast happened when the show was over. The panelists stood, Sullivan’s back to the camera, and as the credits rolled, he began squeezing, massaging his own buttocks with his hands. I thought he might be trying to dislodge a thong strap that had run up rather deep, but no, he seemed to be feeling up his own butt. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, unless I was hallucinating, and if I start hallucinating about Andrew Sullivan copping a feel of his own butt, it's time to check into the clinic for a little Elizabeth Wurtzel layoff.
He wondered if someone out there had the video. Someone else does. (accompanying post with still).
Perhaps, one might proffer, he was itching his butt. But (ahem) if so, why use the palms and no fingertips, and why the symmetric motions? And what part of his clothes or underclothes might he have been smoothing out? A thong wouldn’t need that.
UPDATE: So he says it itched. Still a strange motion, and next time put some thought into where you’re doing this, OK?
posted by Sully 11/08/2004 10:37:00 PM
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Since Sullivan curiously isn’t the only one to have made mean to Bill Clinton over his approval of the execution of Ricky Ray Rector during a presidential primary campaign 12 years ago, Roger Ailes sets the record straight:There’s three additional points that need to be made about Pistof’s long-lost pal, Ricky Ray Rector.
One: Mr. Rector’s mental disability came about after the killings which resulted in his death sentence. After killing his victims, Rector
turned his gun on himself and self-lobotomized in an unsuccesful attempt to kill himself. Rector was not a man who, at the time of his criminal acts, lacked the capacity to understand right from wrong.
Two: Bill Clinton did not prosecute Mr. Rector, he did not preside at the trial of Mr. Rector and he was not among the jurors who rendered the verdict against Rector. Clinton could have prevented the execution
in his capacity as governor. Clinton also supported the death penalty, like almost every Democrat who wants to be a governor in these United States. That does not mean Clinton executed Rector or “presided over the execution.”
Three: Most importantly, the whole Rector story stinks of urban myth. I’ve been searching for a full account of the matter on the internet, and can’t find one. Did Clinton make a special trip to Arkansas, as the story has it, or was he required to return to perform official duties? What’s the evidence (as opposed to wishful thinking) that Clinton’s trip was
calculated for political gain? There’s no evidence, and Pistof cites none, that Clinton “won his credibility” among “Heartland” voters, or any voters, by returning to Arkansas on the eve of the execution.
As we recall the story at that time, Clinton did indeed have to return to Arkansas to sign the death warrant.
But it was a long time ago, and you may have to go to actual paper news archives at the library to find out how it was reported at the time (not, of course, that that is any more likely to be accurate than today’s politically-filtered reflections).
We also remember Nat Hentoff at the Village Voice being really heavy in flogging criticism of Clinton for that (but never mentioning that Rector’s mental disability postdates the crime. In fact, we didn’t know that until now).
posted by Sully 11/07/2004 10:10:00 AM