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

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


Saturday, June 28, 2003


One year ago today, we formally launched this blog.

We�d like to say we always knew it would be a success. Well, we did ... we just didn�t know what success would mean.

We had been mulling this idea for months when the inauguration of WarBloggerWatch and InstapunditWatch sort of forced our hands. We felt we were the ones best equipped to do this. If we didn�t step up when we had the chance, someone else might launch one with less of the breadth of knowledge and memory anyone riding the tiger that is Andrew Sullivan might bring ... and the whole enterprise would be seriously discredited, and Sully�s own personal myth would get kicked all the way to well past 11.

Others at the time were doing it and still do it well, however what was needed was a central place where all that could be brought together along with the more minor issues that make Sullivan�s major character flaws possible.

We believe we�ve provided that space, and then some.

With an average of 300 or so readers a day over that time period, and over 80,000 hits, it seems to us that other people agree. Sullivan has predictably steered clear of directly addressing us, but there are times when it�s obvious that he has been affected by us without overtly saying so. We wish for many more of those.

We�d like to once again thank a group of people who�ve made this an easier job, some of who were blogging back then (The Philadelphia Fanatics, Atrios and Jim Capozzola, come first to mind), one who started at the same time (Hesiod (happy birthday to you, too) and a few who whose entry into the arena was subsequent (Quiddity Quack, David Ehrenstein, Digby, TBogg, Roger Ailes, and more recently Steve Messina and the Mighty Reason Man). We�re sure that, as our second year begins, there will be others.

Over and above, there is the Horse, who lit the way, and the continued traditional-media dogging of Sullivan done by Joe Conason and Michelangelo Signorile.

And lastly but not leastly, Andrew Sullivan, whose pigheaded inability to change one iota or see his own faults provides us with far more material than we know what to do with some days.

To all our true fans and readers, thanks very much for your support! It's deeply appreciated!

posted by Sully 6/28/2003 03:13:00 PM

Friday, June 27, 2003


New blogger Al Giordano takes his rad-left perspective to show how The Blog Queen�s focus on gay marriage is the only gay issue worth considering ignores the economics of the situation

Do you want to know why some comfortable gay men have turned neo-con (i.e. super-capitalist, super-desk-soldier, super-kill-everyone-from-any-other-land, super-moralist, super-hypocrite, super-reappoint-Bush-at-all-costs-even-against-democracy)... do you know why?

And do you want to know why so few lesbian women have followed Sir Andrew's lead?

It�s the economics, stooooopid.

In an economy in which men make about twice as much as women for doing the same (or less) work, a double-income male household makes about TWICE the income that a double-income female household makes, for doing the same level (or less) of work at the same level (or less) of talent. The double-income male household has a distinct economic advantage over all other households, lesbian, hetero, single, or other.

This fact explains, in full, the unspoken secret of the neo-con gay male movement (not to be confused with the conscientious and not-hypocritical gay and lesbian rights movement that I support) and its enthusiasm for legalizing gay marriage (which I support and am on record since forever as supporting) but without, in Sullivan's shallow discourse, legalizing gender and economic equality:

Two words.

Economic privilege.

So, when Andrew Sullivan says that he wants �to make sexual orientation a non-issue, to move on to other issues, and get on with our lives. I want to shut the gay civil rights movement down,� what he means is...

He wants to pull a patriarchal hat-trick: slip the double-male income households above all other households in economic advantage over all others.

posted by Sully 6/27/2003 06:09:00 PM


Jo Fish gives Sullivan his evidence that Bush lied.


Vaara issues Sullivan a challenge:

It is obvious what you must do: Go to Canada and marry your boyfriend. Then, when you return to Massachusetts (or D.C., whichever your �official� residence is), demand that the local government recognize your marriage.

And John Kusch posts this comment.

Actually, I�m sure he�ll just say that shrilly demanding marriage based on a Canadian ceremony will only further antagonize conservatives who already feel like their way of life is under attack; best to wait another 50 years before the current batch of conservative Supreme Court Justices are gone and we�re finally granted voluntary state civil unions or some such nonsense � for the time being, of course.

Too true. Let�s see how long it takes Sullivan to respond to this.

Probably, to reuse a clever little bit that we came up with before, around the time you hear about the number 91 Prada Ford taking the checkered flag at Daytona.

posted by Sully 6/27/2003 06:03:00 PM


Boy, Yankee Doodle Andy looks cute when he�s angry.

We know you hate when someone tells you this but we�ve not been the only ones, O Sage of South Goodstone: There are some things you really do need to be born here to understand.

We with our quaint, 17th-century East-Anglian-derived accents are not just Disney Audio-Animatronic drones there to enhance the adulthood fantasy of some working-class English boy who gets to grow up and go to Harvard and Oxford. We have real lives and history and a function in life other than making you feel fortunate to be who you are, where you are.

One of those things is a consciousness of just how much the American vision of liberty and prosperity is still stained by years of the indulgence of slavery and slaveholders. The �peculiar institution� took 300 years to build and maintain; a bloody war to the contrary, it will not be wiped out overnight. Or in ten years. Or fifty.

What responsibility does a young Korean immigrant bear for this? None directly, of course.

But bear in mind that virtually every historical opportunity for African-Americans to advance themselves was met with a corresponding relaxation of immigration standards ... after the Revolution, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement.

Some people get conspiratorial about this. We don�t. But it�s there. All those poor Italians, Irish, Jews, Greeks, Chinese etc. were allowed in and gave the white man a chance to avoid having to hire the black man.

And apart from that, consider just how much of the U.S.�s original economic strength was built on the back of slave labor. There is a great chapter in Solzhenitsyn�s The Gulag Archipelago where he takes a couple of pages to catalog all the capital/infrsatructure projects built by forced labor in Stalin�s U.S.S.R. Many of them are still in use today. Russia would be thown back years if they were all to disappear instantly in some fit of divine retribution.

You can�t make a similar catalog of American projects. Most of them involved labor that was far too dangerous to risk slaves on, where slaves were available.

But Southern cotton and other agricultural fortunes were the name of the game in the early 19th century. Many of the country's major banks grew by financing them (and other profits were made ... Aetna insured slaves, for one) and the profits were later used to help build some of our other great fortunes of the Industrial Age. Others got rich shipping the products to market on railroads or boats.

Indeed, we�d like to see some economist and/or historian try to document the economic benefit that was created, and still exists, due to slavery (if one already hasn�t). We�d bet that even if you just accounted for the slave labor by assuming market-value compensation for all work performed, America would seem a far poorer country today without it. The percentages might change a lot of minds on just why some form of reparations for slavery seem to some like a good idea.

This isn�t even beginning to address the economic impact of Jim Crow and all the other pettier forms of discrimination experienced by African-Americans since the Thirteenth Amendment, either. You wanna tote that one up?

The ghosts of slavery are still with us, on every dollar we spend or make. Dwell on the past and you lose an eye, as the Russian proverb quoted by Solzhenitsyn at the beginning of his magnum opus says, and as Sullivan seems to be implying. But Solzhenitsyn also notes that the same proverb also goes on to say: Forget the past and you�ll lose both eyes.

posted by Sully 6/27/2003 01:38:00 AM


Sites too numerous to mention have called our attention to this Howie Kurtz-penned Washington Post story about the unusual access and behavior of Times reporter Judith Miller during several recent failed WMD searches in Iraq. (Quiddity Quack has, as usual, made it all so very clear)

The money stuff, of course, is Miller�s invoking the name of Rumsfeld and Feith to do whatever she wants regardless of military considerations or threaten to embarrass the military in the Times. Others have concentrated on her reliance on the ever-more discredited Ahmed Chalabi and her ties, apparently in violation of Times policy, to Daniel Pipes� hardline Middle East Forum. Still others have found her participation in a military promotion ceremony to be a gross violation of impartiality.

For us the bottom line is this: Miller has learned, like John Markoff, Jeff Gerth and Gina Kolata before her, that if you publish a book and win awards, you are basically exempt from any sort of traditional journalistic obligation whatsoever towards impartiality. Instead of being the Times� person on the scene, you are the scene�s person at the Times.

Poor Jayson. If he had vaulted that little hurdle, instead of just being a beat reporter, he would have had a job for life. (Oh, by the way, notice what color all those people are? The color Jayson isn�t? And conservatives snicker at black journalists who are still privately upset that Gerald Boyd had to resign as well).

Another guarantee, of course: Similarly ethically-conflicted people who set themselves up as media analysts, such as our friend the Blog Queen, will give you a pass as a matter of professional courtesy.

As Eric Alterman says:

One has to wonder what can possibly be going on, again, at the Times. (And given the fact that much of what Miller has �reported� has been in the service of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Neocon deception, I am just dying to hear about how this fits into the Times� alleged anti-war conspiracy. If only�.) Then again, conservatives in the media can get away with just about anything. Perhaps the stonewalling will work.

posted by Sully 6/27/2003 12:30:00 AM


Sully�s perfectly justifiable joy over Lawrence v. Texas has got to be tempered by this development.

posted by Sully 6/27/2003 12:09:00 AM


Sullivan will probably want to bite his keyboard on this one.

�Cog,� that much-vaunted British Honda ad that he linked to two months after everyone else did a few days ago ...

Guess where those geniuses made it?


In the course of a week in a Paris studio, crews agonized through 605 takes. Every time, something went wrong � a rolling gear missed its mark, the oil can poured too much or too little oil, the disembodied windshield wipers did not come to life with a squirt of liquid as planned.

Ici aussi.

It was filmed on an industrial estate outside Paris.

The final shoot lasted four days and nights and ran to an incredible 606 takes until the makers were satisfied that everything was perfect.

(Thanks to a reader who wishes to remain anonymous)

(BTW, Google found this parody of the ad if you�re interested.

posted by Sully 6/27/2003 12:05:00 AM

Thursday, June 26, 2003


I know from observing him and debating him once that he's an intemperate, arrogant bully ...

C�mon, Sully: was it really him, or just your own image in the mirror?

It�s a trait bad doctors have. They are used to being in such controlling positions vis-a-vis their patients that it goes to their heads.

Bad patients deserve their bad doctors.

posted by Sully 6/26/2003 01:08:00 PM


Ana also takes her best shot at Bobo Boy:

Only David Brooks could be so head-thumpingly wrong in his arguments that I would be forced to defend the honor of The American Prospect.

In his latest exercise of armchair journalism, Brooks posits that �liberals� have �gone insane,� �flipped their lids,� lost all perspective and succumbed to fevers of incoherent rage." How does he know this? Because a few not-entirely-obscure progressives have openly criticized President Bush, and, as we all know, that�s crazy-talk!

I don�t know what world Brooks is living in when he cites a Prospect headline (�The Most Dangerous President Ever�) as somehow representative of Democratic policy, but I know that I don�t live there (and wouldn�t want to).

The substance of Brooks �s piece (putting it generously) is that liberal invective has reached a hysterical pitch that only dogs and Nation subscribers can hear. This is good news for the right, natch: It means the Dems are driving away swing voters and effectively pulling themselves out of the political process. As with most of Brooks�s punditry, this is less a thesis than it is wish fulfillment. Even Brooks must realize that Prospect headlines and Tim Robbins quotes are just evidence of long-term, on-going meltdowns that have little to do with American political life at large ...


[Brooks] says, �Democratic mood is more pervasive, and potentially more self-destructive.�

This is bushwa. If we�re having a rhetorical race to the bottom, Brooks could at least admit that � on this score at least � the two parties are in a dead heat. It is easy to find Republican leaders and conservative pundits speaking in equally over-heated terms about liberals; it is the reason Fox News exists.

Such verbal fireworks are the real reason people watch Fox � they�re also the reason that people watch �American Idol.� A lack of mental mud-wrestling is what keeps most people away from most political commentary, liberal and conservative alike. Wonks at their most interesting (and perhaps in their dreams) still tend to talk more like Tom Frank and Rick Hertzberg (or Bill Kristol and Byron York) than Ann Coulter or Michael Moore.

She also links to Greg Beato, who lets conservatives speak for themselves on whether they�re guilty of the same extremism, to an eve greater degree.

posted by Sully 6/26/2003 12:55:00 PM


Ana Marie Cox continues to charm us with this take on Sullivan�s replacement for �Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!�:

If only for consistency�s sake (my own, I mean), I must point out Andrew Sullivan�s new tagline, replacing the by-now irrelevant �All the news that's unfit to print�:

�The Revolution Will Be Blogged.�

As catchphrases for democracy go, this is not particularly inspiring, implying as it does a combination of laziness and self-absorption completely at odds with the sort of sacrifice and bravery that true revolutions require. To say that the revolution will be blogged is akin to touting �Libert�, Egalit�, Egocentrisme� or demanding, �Give me liberty or give me someplace comfortable to sit down.�

It�s also a rather twisted inversion of the original reference: �The revolution will not be televised� was an indictment of the power media holds over our lives versus the immediacy and intimacy of lived experience. Indeed, Gil Scott-Heron�s opening lines warned would-be revolutionaries (as well as those who would be the first against the wall) in words that are eerily appropriate for today's armchair agitators:

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.

The revolution, Scott-Heron said, �will be live.�

We are in awe.

(BTW, this is our first post with the new version of Blogger. We�ll see how it goes).

posted by Sully 6/26/2003 12:44:00 PM

Wednesday, June 25, 2003


�He that shall peruse the political pamphlets of any past reign will wonder why they were so eagerly read, or so loudly praised. Many of the performances which had power to inflame factions, and fill a kingdom with confusion, have now very little effect upon a frigid critic; and the time is coming when the compositions of later hirelings shall lie equally despised. In proportion as those who write on temporary subjects are exalted above their merit at first, they are afterwards depressed below it; nor can the brightest elegance of diction, or most artful subtilty of reasoning, hope for much esteem from those whose regard is no longer quickened by curiosity or pride.� � Samuel Johnson, Rambler #106, March 23, 1751 (from a reader).

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 12:58:00 PM


We�ve had a couple of rough spots ourselves with Blogger lately, but apparently the problems Sullivan complains about are unique to him.

�For a week now, after an overhaul, every other post ends up being given some weird future date and cannot be published.�

That�s hardly a new problem with your posts, Sullivan, and you know that. We know you know that.

But, hey, if it gives you a new excuse ... (all together now) it�s a FEATURE!

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 12:54:00 PM


Well, Roger was right. Sullivan goes after MoDo like a dog in heat and becomes utterly unreadable in the process.

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 12:50:00 PM


Abu Aardvark on how Sullivan misuses the Iranian situation for political purposes:

Leave it to Andrew Sullivan to take a complex and important issue and turn it into a simplistic and exaggerated attack on the Left! Sullivan complains that the Left has ignored the story of the student protests in Iran, and this shows once again that the Left hates America more than it hates injustice, evil, whatever. Has the Left (whatever that is) ignored Iran? The aardvark hasn�t, but I lay no claim whatsoever to be among this mysterious, mighty Left. What about MERIP, the premiere left-leaning journal of Middle Eastern studies? Hmm. The current issue has nothing... except for �High Stakes for Iran,� by Kaveh Ehsani. The previous issue has nothing... except for �Last Efforts of Iran�s Reformists� by Ali Rezaei. The issue before that? �Iranian Documentary Cinema Between Reality and Fiction,� by Persheng Vaziri � which might not sound on target except for the highly political nature of the contestation of the Iranian cinema and its contribution to the reformist public sphere. And before that? An online article, �Protest and Regime Resilience in Iran,� by Bijan Khajehpour So I think it is safe to say that MERIP, at least, has not ignored the struggle for reform in Iran.

So aside from the fact that Sullivan�s charge isn't true, what might explain it (I know, I know... but with Sullivan you just have no choice but to engage in these counterfactuals, because otherwise there�s nothing to work with) Outside the world of Middle East specialists, my hunch is that most people don�t know very much about Iran, they saw all the lies about Iraq, they saw the absurd axis of evil speech, and they assume that this is all just another neocon fantasy. This isn�t entirely right, but you can understand the non-specialist�s skepticism. Especially since it is common knowledge among specialists that neocons like Michael Ledeen have been wildly exaggerating the extent of protests in Iran for the last couple of years. With Ledeen saying that tens of thousands of angry students marched, and every journalist on the ground saying it was a few hundred students listening to a speaker at a podium, you tend to discount new reports as more crying wolf.

Most people who do follow things in Iran closely see what is happening there as a complex power struggle which has been going on for years, which has seen exhilerating ups and crushing downs for reformists. We�ve learned to not get too excited about the highs or too glum about the lows, and to focus on ways to strengthen the reformists over the long haul. And we tend to think that engagement strategies � relaxing the atmosphere to take away the conservatives� argument that the protests are simply an American insurgency attempt, rewarding signs of moderation and punishing extremism � tend to be more effective than confrontational strategies. The response the Right advocates � escalate American anti-Iran rhetoric, egg the protestors on � plays right into the hands of Khamenei and the conservatives. It �proves� that the reformists are just American pawns (they aren�t, but Khamenei and company are every bit as gifted as Andrew Sullivan at smearing political enemies). Team Bush�s decision to give up on Khatami as just another face of the regime really hurts the reformists by weakening the position of someone who actually has electoral legitimacy, even if most people have grown deeply frustrated with his failures.


I don�t know anyone � anyone � on the left-leaning side of Middle East studies who isn�t rooting for the Iranian reformers ... To say that the Left doesn�t care about Iran isn�t just untrue, it�s virtually the opposite of the truth � we have been pushing for support for Khatami and the reform movement for a long time, while the Right preferred to ignore the reform movement and push for an anti-Islamist revolution. Whether reformists had a chance to succeed is a legitimate intellectual and policy disagreement, but for Sullivan to conjure the charge that the Left is ignoring Iran � and, of course, to have it rebound through the ever so tiresome conservative blogosphere�s and media�s echo chamber � is just another act of misdirection.

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 12:34:00 PM


Uh-oh. It looks like Arnaud de Borchgrave, flamboyant and profligate former editor of The Newspaper Andrew Sullivan Takes Money From Without Admitting To It On His Blog, solicited an interview from Saddam in 2001, promising that it would lead to �a reappraisal of American policy toward Iraq.�

If we read Sully�s rule book right, this amounts to attempted treason whatever the U.S Constitution says to the contrary. But he has said nothing about this. And De Borchgrave basically says, yeah, I did it alright but I wasn�t being sincere.

Where, oh where, is the outrage? It couldn�t have bumped into Quicken on the way to Blogger, could it?

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 12:18:00 PM


Jo Fish takes it to Sullivan even more intensely than we did over his attempt to extricate Dubya from himself last night:

Am I alone here in thinking that Captain Muscles has to have some sort of Strange Brain Disorder or that he�s becoming so incapable of reason, that he's about to start genuflecting and praying to his demi-God Bush?


Then he invokes 9-11 (the republican excuse for everything from flatulence to the Aurora Borealis) and the French to further bolster his arguments that somehow it�s OK to lie, as long as you have your fingers crossed behind your back.


Sully here try this on for size ... it should not hurt your brain too much: Bush Lied, People Died. Repeat it often. Oh, I forgot, you used to believe that HIV risks were not lowered by safe-sex either. Probably a liberal lefty lie as well.

Link added.

Of course, this puts his remark about how we�ll get over our aversion to using drugs for strictly medical reasons in entirely a different light.

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 12:05:00 PM


Steve Messina takes on David Brooks as well, providing some examples that would easily convince a kindergartner that liberals are only giving what they�ve been getting:

Well, maybe it�s because I�m clinically insane, as Brooks helpfully suggests, but it seems to me that when I walk into a bookstore I see conservative authors who pick out every tiny piece of evidence or pseudo-evidence of Democratic vileness and then dwell on it and obsess over it until they have a New York Times bestseller. Conservative authors accuse liberals and Democrats of Slander, Bias, and Treason, and of being Useful Idiots. They write about The Dark Side of Liberalism and ask Why the Left Hates America. They call us The New Thought Police. They accuse the only Democratic president of the past generation of Dereliction of Duty and High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

(As irony would have it, as we cut-and-pasted this, the blogspot ad over there touted none other than Why the Left Hates America). Actually, Steve, remember that it�s only through bulk purchases by Regnery that many of these tomes become bestsellers. As you yourself are aware, without them the little man behind the conservative curtain would be exposed.

Digby also throws up his hands at Brooks� glibness in understanding American mass culture.

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 08:36:00 AM


Sullivan has of late (perhaps understandably) developed an annoying rhetorical tic of making a statement, then immediately backing off from it. The lede to his post on the Administration�s WMD deceptions is just the latest example. It parses to: Leftists are obsessing about President Bush�s lying about WMDs. But maybe we should, too.

Next, he goes and trashes his old mag for good measure, taking refuge in �I think we�ll soon know more.� (News flash, Sullivan: You�ve been saying that for almost a month now. How now is soon?).

At last, he takes a swan dive off the cliff of logic into the crashing surf of absurdity:

The premise is that after 9/11, only rock-solid evidence of illicit weapons prgrams and proven ties to terrorists could justify a pre-emptive war to depose Saddam. But the point of 9/11 was surely the opposite: that the burden of proof now lay on people denying such a threat, not those fearing it.

In other words, when it is politically convenient for neocons, you are supposed to be able to prove a negative. Funny how this has never troubled Sullivan when he�s made jabs at Clinton for shooting missiles at al-Qaeda after the 1998 embassy bombings.

Would I rather we had an administration that remained Solomon-like in the face of inevitably limited and muddled intelligence and sought the kind of rock-solid consensus on everything that would satisfy Jacques Chirac or the BBC (or John Kerry)? Or would I rather we had a president who realized that post-9/11 it was prudent to be highly concerned about such weapons and connections and better, by and large, to be safe than sorry?

Again, how does the current effort differ from Clinton�s missile strikes on Sudan (also allegedly based on bad intel)?

Aside from that, there is this logical fallacy currently gaining currency among neocons and Bushies. Just because inaction in the face of a perceived threat is bad, it does not follow that quick, decisive action in the face of said threat is automatically good. Even after 9/11, there is still such a thing as �recklessness�

It gets truly laughable when he leans on Rosenbaum�s Times piece, which basically goes to bending over backwards to obey the Grey Lady�s unwritten rule that the President of the United States, or such as may be a reasonable facsimile thereof, is never out-and-out called a liar in its pages. Noah rightly notes its shortcomings, in passages the Blog Queen declines to address:

In Corn�s view, the key to Bush�s lies isn�t necessarily that he doesn�t know any better, but that he doesn�t care. �He mischaracterizes situations to fit his pattern of thinking,� Corn explained. �Does he believe he�s lying? I don�t know.� But �he still should be held accountable, whether he made a mistake of this nature in good faith or in bad faith.� Amen.

It�s the old legal question: Not just did you know, but should you have known?

TAPped is blunter:

Rosenbaum ... provides us with a good example of the cognitive dissonance that results when the need for a seemingly smart, �neutral� storyline (Bush isn�t lying � he�s exaggerating!) overrides the evidence at one�s disposal.


Which is it? In fact, Bush lied about his tax cut? Or in fact, he didn�t? Rosenbaum doesn�t answer the question; instead, he makes excuses for Bush.


So let�s see if Tapped has this straight. When, like Clinton, you�re lying about something that ultimately will have little effect on the lives of most Americans, it�s dangerous. But when you�re pushing through aggressively and profoundly conservative policies that, if described accurately, would probably alienate most of the public, it�s OK to lie about them!

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 08:25:00 AM


The more we chip away at the puritanical stigma of taking pharmaceuticals for anything other than basic health, the happier and healthier a lot of people will be.

Keep Those Pounds Off With Heroin

Better Management Through Crack

posted by Sully 6/25/2003 08:02:00 AM

Tuesday, June 24, 2003


Via skippy, who himself credits the relatively new Society�s Memory Bank, we find someone we never imagined would do so making the same point as we have in reply to Sullivan�s �the Iraqi people are free of Saddam and tyranny now, so WMDs are irrelevant� meme:

And overshadowing the military achievement is the failure � so far � to find, or explain the absence of, weapons of mass destruction that were the necessary and sufficient justification for preemptive war. The doctrine of preemption � the core of the president�s foreign policy � is in jeopardy.

To govern is to choose, almost always on the basis of very imperfect information. But preemption presupposes the ability to know things � to know about threats with a degree of certainty not requisite for decisions less momentous than those for waging war.

Some say the war was justified even if WMD are not found nor their destruction explained, because the world is �better off� without Saddam Hussein. Of course it is better off. But unless one is prepared to postulate a U.S. right, perhaps even a duty, to militarily dismantle any tyranny � on to Burma? � it is unacceptable to argue that Hussein's mass graves and torture chambers suffice as retrospective justifications for preemptive war.


... unless America�s foreign policy is New Age therapy to make the public feel mellow, feeling good about the consequences of an action does not obviate the need to assess the original rationale for the action.

Until WMD are found, or their absence accounted for, there is urgent explaining to be done.

(Emphasis ours)
OK, Sully, let�s hear how this guy is �objectively pro-Saddam� and just wants to hurt the Bush administration.

posted by Sully 6/24/2003 01:31:00 PM


Gephardt�s only sin is imprecise phrasing. No, the Supreme Court cannot merely be overturned by an executive order. But in reality this is the sort of thing that happens all the time. Court decisions are often very vague; executive orders ultra-specific (Presidents have used them to limit the impact of legislation they disliked for a long time). It would be entirely possible, for instance, for a Supreme Court decision overturning explicit affirmative action completely to be met with an executive order conditioning federal expenditures of some type in higher education on the diversity of the student population or its commitment to diversity.

Consider that liberals don�t much like the Beck v. CWA decision, which allows workers to request that the proportion of their dues not used for collective bargaining be refunded to them, because it puts a check on union involvement in the political process that is not imposed on the corporate interests that often oppose them (Let�s see some liberal Dems with balls introduce legislation that grants the same right to shareholders and bondholders. If, as argued by libertarians, it�s wrong to compel someone to provide money for lobbying for political causes they do not support, surely one�s investment money is meant to be used in improving the company and making it profitable rather than buying ads arguing for right-wing social causes on the op-ed page of The New York Times? Or, if corporations use their profits to lobby for legislation that directly advances their interests, and such money would be exempt from return to shareholders, wouldn�t unions be entitled to hold on to dues money used for things like opposing right-to-work legislation?). Bush the First immediately responded with an executive order requiring that the standard chart of worker rights which is posted at every workplace include, where applicaible, prominent notification of their rights under this decision. Clinton rescinded that, and the current Bush restored it.

Whether you agree with this decision or those presidential moves or not, you have to agree that those presidential moves were completely within the scope of executive authority, yet profoundly affected the real-world impact of the Supreme Court�s decision.

posted by Sully 6/24/2003 10:03:00 AM


From Even The Rightward-Drifting Mickey Kaus via Roger Ailes, we learn that the Sacramento Bee�s blogger-in-residence, Daniel Weintraub, picks apart Sullivan�s latest blast at Hillary:

Andrew Sullivan accuses Hillary Clinton of waffling on gay marriage. But her real sin isn�t a lack of courage, as Sullivan alleges, but a lack of agreement with Andrew Sullivan ... Sullivan quotes Clinton saying pretty clearly and at some length that she opposes gay marriage, favors domestic partnerships and civil unions, and doesn�t think the US will ever favor gay marriage or institute it on a national basis. �Marriage has a meaning,� Clinton says, �that I think should be kept as it historically has been.� Clinton�s words are so clear, in fact, that Sullivan sums up by saying Hillary has �opposed equal rights for gays and lesbians.� He�s right (finally), but how is that waffling? He only knew she opposed gay marriage because, contrary to his headline and first paragraph, she did take a position. Disagreeing with Andrew and lacking courage are often the same thing. But not always.

One of Sully�s letter-writers agrees:

[Y]ou call Hillary Clinton a waffler, prevaricator and straddler because she is not in favor of same-sex marriage. Huh? If you were able to discern her view from her answer to Lehrer, how could it be a �non-answer�? How could it be interpreted as waffling or straddling if she, like a lot of folks, favors giving gays and lesbians some domestic partnership rights but not the rights of marriage? And how is that a prevarication? Are you saying she is in favor of marriage for gays and lesbians?


OK, at long last, after being shamed all over the blogosphere for it, Sullivan has finally acknowledged the Christian Science Monitor�s Galloway papers were fake and, just as we predicted, clung to the same expert�s preliminary vindication of the Telegraph�s stash.

But he has not apologized for his own role in propagating that story in the first place, nor has he admitted the existence of the obvious question: If the Monitor�s documents are clearly forgeries, doesn�t that still call into question the Telegraph�s?

posted by Sully 6/24/2003 09:35:00 AM

Monday, June 23, 2003


We�re somewhat amused by Brooks� piece. Underneath it all you will detect a certain nervousness that those of us on the left side of the aisle have to take some delight in ... finally, they are afraid of us. It�s amusing to see that conservatives are now learning what it�s like to have to live with wounded self-esteem due to daily assaults on the one they see as the leader who brought them out of Egypt. Almost everything he describes in his opening grafs could have, with quotes and names and dates changed, been written by a liberal Democratic commentator five years ago.

What you are seeing and being so puzzled by, cons of all stripes, is what you were and still are. If conservatives are taken aback by all this, it is not a good sign for their movement (of course, which is a good sign for us) because it means they have already forgotten what it was like to be out in the cold glaring into the windows enviously. Or perhaps they are also in secret agreement with some of the critiques Brooks carefully enumerates, and wish they were able to give them freer voice. Or they are again tacitly confessing that all those horrible things they said, did and believed in the late 1990s ... well, they weren�t serious, they just wanted to get elected and re-elected.

And, speaking as some who are happy to be counted among those he is describing, let us single out the following as an example of what keeps us on this tack:

It�s mystifying. Fury rarely wins elections. Rage rarely appeals to suburban moderates. And there is a mountain of evidence that the Democrats are now racing away from swing voters, who do not hate George Bush, and who, despite their qualms about the economy and certain policies, do not feel that the republic is being raped by vile and illegitimate marauders.

The Americans With Disabilities Act probably enjoins us from requiring that Brooks provide some of the bedrock of this �mountain of evidence.� But it probably doesn�t prevent us from pointing out that, in 1994, Republicans swept to control of both houses of Congress for the first time in almost half a century precisely by appealing to the (admittedly carefully stoked) rage of suburban moderates. Remember the �angry white male� who listened to Limbaugh and voted straight Republican that year because he supposedly liked the �Contract �with� America�? Republicans were unapologetic about it then ... we also seem to recall that Newt Gingrich made his way into the House leadership because the rank-and-file were so fed up with being in the minority for so long under the stewardship of Robert Michel, whose go-slow loyal-opposition style of leadership seems to be what Brooks would advise Democrats to adopt if they want to run things again (which, of course, he doesn�t).

They came. We were conquered. We saw. We learned. And if conservatives, now that they have taken over the universe, suddenly find themselves nostalgic for the days when they couldn�t call liberals �wimps� enough times on talks shows, for the sort of liberals who could be safely pigeonholed as being like Mr. Van Driessen on Beavis and Butt-head, well, that is not our problem. You mean they actually thought there was some virtue in being soft, willing to compromise, morally relativist and all those things they ... loved about Jimmy Carter? Shouldn�t conservatives applaud this development?

You see, the fatal flaw here is that conservatives assume no one became liberal after, say, 1969. All liberals, at least the white ones, obviously had to come from the Woodstock era.

What they fail to realize is that liberalism has a Generation X too ... people who came of age politically in the Reagan years yet worked their hearts out for Mondale and Dukakis, not so much because they thought those candidates were going to win but for the simple reason that they believed it was the right side to be on, and who chafed at the older leadership not really willing to listen to us or even understand where we were coming from while they depended on us to explain how to format the flyer on that computer thingy on the desktop (Meanwhile, we saw with envy how the other side was willing to let youth drive the car at least some of the time). We too mourned

Well, now that older generation of liberals, that pre-1960s generation that conservatives still seem to look upon fondly, is heading off into the sunset if not there already. The baby boomers are at last easing into the real leadership roles, while this younger generation replaces them at the middle levels where careers are made.

And we have never tasted this glorious power we are supposed to have, except perhaps for flashes during eight happy years. We are eager to do it and do it our way, and our way means using the same bare knuckles we have seen wielded to such effect on the right. And all along, we knew we could strike as hard ourselves if only they would give us the chance.

Now, by firmly running the older liberal leadership out of Washington on a hot rail, you have given us that chance. And we�ll thank you not to tell us how to not do what you did.


We particularly like the way Brooks has to qualify things this way to his fellow righties:

Democrats may or may not be behaving intelligently, but they are behaving sincerely. Their statements are not the product of some Dick Morris-style strategic plan. This stuff wasn�t focus-grouped. The Democrats are letting their inner selves out for a romp.

First, note the careful assumption paid to the conceit so puzzlingly common among conservatives: that all liberal positions and public statements are the result of refined calculation and not the spontaneous release of political beliefs. Again the right paints liberals and �The Left� as it can only plainly be seen by others.

It only just seems to have occurred to Brooks that this might be, like, real. Perhaps it is this stunning display of perceptive powers that gives Brooks his reputation among the right as a careful and serious thinker.

And there might be another term for this. Where Bobo Boy sees the Dems as �letting their inner selves out for a romp,� we see (in light of his tacit realization that this has bubbled up instead of trickling down), a party and ideology getting back in touch with its roots. Don�t conservatives think that�s important?

Actually, he does have enough functional neurons to describe the liberal perception of the media universe accurately:

Even the Supreme Court helped Republicans steal the last election, many Democrats feel. Republicans � to borrow political scientist Samuel Lubell�s trope � have become the Sun party and Democrats have been reduced to being the Moon party. Many Democrats feel that George Bush is just running loose, transforming the national landscape and ruining the nation, and there is nothing they can do to stop him.

Wherever Democrats look, they sense their powerlessness. Even when they look to the media, they feel that conservatives have the upper hand. Conservatives think this is ludicrous. We may have Rush and Fox, conservatives say, but you have ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times. But liberals are sincere. They despair that a consortium of conservative think tanks, talk radio hosts, and Fox News � Hillary�s vast right-wing conspiracy � has cohered to form a dazzlingly efficient ideology delivery system that swamps liberal efforts to get their ideas out.

And here he�s absolutely right again:

Republicans are suffering from many of the maladies that afflict the powerful, but they have not been driven into their own emotional ghetto because in their hearts Republicans don�t feel that powerful

Of course, for Republicans there substitute �conservatives,� which is what Brooks really means.

Sullivan, like Brooks, has made the point that Bush has not entirely lived up to conservative principles, and both seem to imply that therein lies a weakness the Democrats should exploit.

Oh? Like Republicans ran on the strength of similar liberal discontent with Clinton in his first term? We can just see this now: �Didn�t get the tax cut you expected? Then vote in the guys who want to cancel that cut and raise it some again.�

Then again, one has to wonder if Brooks is actually serious when he characterizes the Republican counternarrative thusly:

The Democrats are the party that for 40 years has labeled its opponents racists, fascists, religious nuts, and monsters who wanted to starve grannies and orphans. Republicans saw what Democrats did to Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and dozens of others.

Somehow Brooks has confused the political insults leveled at Republicans for years with the deeply personal insults leveled at Bill Clinton and anyone who worked for him. What the Dems did do to Bork eventually ran a little over the top, but no one questioned his integrity. OK, Clarence Thomas probably had some reason to feel his personal life was invaded, but given what David Brock now admits he did to Anita Hill (which conservatives still want to believe is something worthy of the Nobel Prize), they more than made up for it.

Finally Brooks has to admit one thing:

Now it is true that you can find conservatives and Republicans who went berserk during the Clinton years, accusing the Clintons of multiple murders and obsessing over how Vince Foster�s body may or may not have been moved. And it is true that Michael Savage and Ann Coulter are still out there accusing the liberals of treason. The Republicans had their own little bout of self-destructive, self-pitying powerlessness in the late 1990s, and were only rescued from it when George W. Bush emerged from Texas radiating equanimity.

We�re almost too stunned by this to scratch our heads.

First, conservatives had been like this since 1992 (If this is on Free Republic (where as we�re sure Brooks knows we can see Republicans letting their inner selves out for a romp) by some chance, let�s see how many people roast Brooks over an open pit for this one). Second, Brooks contradicts himself ... in the late 1990s Republicans were hardly powerless, in control of both houses of Congress.

Finally, again he tries to suggest that what came to dominate mainstream ideology in both movements is somehow marginal today. Sure, and McGovern won in 1972, based on our years-long informal poll.

We�d also like to see how this was self-destructive when the net result was that Republicans have a near-perfect lock on the federal government. It would be worth Brooks� time to note that the last time Republicans found themselves in this position, a half-century ago, their man on horseback turned out to be the junior senator from Wisconsin who drunkenly waved around his old laundry list as proof of secret Communist control of the federal government. In the near term McCarthyism backfired on the Republican party, but we think he won the war from his grave.

Brooks is right that Republicans are growing complacent. They sure are, and we find it a mite suspicious that now that they are the ones in all the big chairs, all of a sudden they counsel moderacy and temperance and deference in all things rhetorical to the ones they defeated by abandoning those very same tactics. When you�re the one selling the apples, suddenly it doesn�t seem like so much fun to knock the carts over.

Just what is it with these people, anyway? We have always said amongst ourselves that conservatives can dish it out but they absolutely cannot take it. Now, it seems, they have completely lost the ability to understand why someone might want to dish it out to them even.

And Brooks may well be misguided if he thinks that this will inevitably hurt the Democrats among American voters.

We especially find it insulting that he ascribes this to Republicans having �daily contact with moderate voters, who almost never think about politics except just before Election Day.� First, if that�s how conservatives see the rest of the base, they are in worse trouble than even we thought; second, as if there aren�t Republican strongholds (like, say, Sugar Land, Texas) where one can find the same sort of echo chamber Brooks claims to deplore on the left; and third, wasn�t moderation supposed to be a bad thing?. And lastly, perhaps he should stop basing all his political perceptions on the research he did (if he did any) for Bobos in Paradise?

After all, the Republicans never had to wrestle with the perception that, as Robert Frost famously said of liberals, they were too broadminded to take their own side in a quarrel. The public that chooses Republicans over Democrats despite support for the latter�s program and misgivings about the former�s agenda may well just be preferring the guy who stands up for himself over the guy who lets its slide. A party and ideology that are willing to fight for their honor may just look like a party and ideology unafraid to defend its country as well.

posted by Sully 6/23/2003 01:38:00 PM


We don�t have our copy of �Self-Reliance� handy, but we�d swear that it says �Know thyself ... every heart vibrates to that iron string.�


Here at SullyWatch, where our company car is a spry, fuel-efficient and nimble Civic, we are especially proud to be associated with Honda and that ad, and we urge you to go see it too. It�s a sad year for advertising when the best ad we�ve seen all year was not only not aired during the Super Bowl, but not even on American TV to boot (we�re glad it�s finally mirrored, as we couldn�t get to it before). Viewing it over a dialup actually heightens the tension ... will the muffler make it or not?

Of course, remember that the Blog Queen is two months late in taking note of this. Not that he admits it ... as usual, something every other blogger seems to have noticed and promoted for weeks is obviously only news when he deigns to lower his nose in its direction.

And what�s with the little dig �And some people think capitalism isn�t creative�? Must he find a way to politicize everything? Has he forgotten that�s the department of hysterical, humorless leftist scolds?

posted by Sully 6/23/2003 02:27:00 AM


Notice that in conclusion to today�s lengthy gift of free publicity to Hillary Clinton, he describes her as �The Senator from New York State� (or, as we�ve noted before, �The Senator from New York State With A Perfect Record on Voting For GLBT Issues From The Human Rights Campaign�).

Hmm. We�d wager that this guy, legendary media hound that he is, would interject that that characterization applies to him, too.

Mrs. Clinton should properly be referred to as the junior senator from the great state of New York.

That Sullivan sees her as New York�s only senator is a minor. But telling.

(God, was that last sentence a perfect impression of him or what?)

posted by Sully 6/23/2003 02:10:00 AM


It has been pointed out in so many places (last link added 11:38 a.m. EDT 6/23) by now that the Christian Science Monitor has owned up to its readers that the documents upon which it had based an earlier report, eagerly linked by our boy in Provincetown*, were forgeries, Sullivan hasn�t lifted a finger to correct himself (Contrast that with the Monitor�s editors).

Well, it is now three days since the Monitor made the admission. And he still hasn�t. Even with a plateful of fresh midnight posts, there isn�t even a defensive, sneering �It�s not a story� response he gave during the media�s brief flurry of interest in George W. Bush�s past as a well-paid serial business failure (Not even the one legitimate point conceded by the Monitor � that the Telegraph�s earlier �discovery� held up better under the same tests than its own finds � has gotten above his radar).

And this man dares to quote Dave Barry dissing the Times? He dares to tell us that his harassment of Raines (and that�s being fairly generous to Sullivan) was all about upholding journalistic standards and not about politics, oh no sir! To take everything he says on that subject with a grain of salt from now on (which, �tis true, we were doing to begin with) is to give it far more it than it deserves.

Sully might, by the way, like to consider the import of this graf from the Monitor:

The general was offering other documents alleging malfeasance on the part of a wide array of foreign public figures noted for their support of the Hussein regime. (When Smucker met the general earlier, Rasool denied having documents dealing with any foreign politicians other than Galloway.)

(*Again, we waive our own rule against linking directly to Sullivan here, just as we did in that Times-style correction last week, because in this instance we need to show hard proof)


Scarcely has Jo Fish settled into his spanking new digs than he tags Sullivan on Kerry�s supposed perfidy.

Sully of course, knows when to stop, but doesn�t. He claims that the capture of the latest Iraqi mucky-muck will lead us down that Yellow Brick Road to the missing (read non-existent) Weapons of Mass Destruction (hey, they�re Islamic maybe these weapons were to destroy Catholic Mass ... yeah that�s it, that�s the ticket!) Puh-leze. So according to Sully, we just wait and all the good stuff will eventually turn up. No really, the last RNC fund-raising letter told him so.


Of course Mr. Sullivan pompous and arrogant queen of denial that he is, forgets that John Kerry already went off and fought in a war based on a lie, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. And fought bravely by all accounts, coming home with a Silver Star. We have not yet seen all of the military records pertaining to he who Sully contends falls into the category of He-Who-Would-Not-Lie, because he deserted and them�s the facts, Andy.

Well, maybe Sully does remember. After all, it can be speculated with a reasonable degree of certainty, he kind of went off and fought in a war of sorts based on a lie of his own creation � that he could no longer get infected with HIV because he was, well, just such a super guy and he had such an awesome set of muscles that it couldn�t happen to him.

posted by Sully 6/23/2003 01:54:00 AM

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The fisking of Norah Vincent

How we drove her out of Blogistan almost all by ourselves.


Excerpts from Lee Siegel's 2001 Harper's piece

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Who Was That Masked Man?

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Eve Tushnet's classic zinger

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"Bush reveals his poisonous colours"

Diane E. goes digging through the memory hole and finds a Times of London column Sullivan would prefer be forgotten.


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"The Princess of Provincetown"

Jim Capozzola goes further in that direction than we would ever dare.


Sullivan urges the Bush Administration to lie to the public

Brendan and Ben catch him in the act.


The Washington Times: An irredeemably left-wing rag

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