Perhaps the single, common life goal of every intellectual, pseudo-intellectual, and intellectual aspirant, is to be a true Renaissance man — a genius whose force of will and flexible, dominating intellect allows him to master or nearly master not one or two, but a whole host of related and unrelated fields of study and practice.
Sadly, not everyone can be Leonardo da Vinci or Karol Wojtyla. Or Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan, who has worn dozens of hats in his lifetime, is truly unique. He stands astride the worlds of politics, journalism, theology, foreign policy, and applied obstetrics like the Colossus of Rhodes. A former editor forThe New Republic — a publication that benefited from his razor-sharp insights on, among other things, the early masterpieces of Stephen Glass — columnist-about-town for Time, the Atlantic, and various Fleet Street rags; a Ph.D in the works of Michael Oakeshott, recognized by true conservatives everywhere as the only conservative thinker of the last four hundred years; and an itinerant blogger whose once-eponymous site has migrated to Time and now the Atlantic, Sullivan is one of those Washington fixtures that fit unusually well on the late-night talk show circuit, as he himself likes to demonstrate. Like a real-life, hyper-garrulous Forrest Gump, Sullivan has been present for, or at least has shared his thoughts — stray, organized, rational, and delusional — on most of the major events of the last twenty five years, at a rate that has only increased since he began blogging (before it was cool) and taking long vacations after pledge drives (which has been cool forever). More impressive than his output is his utter lack of fear of self-contradiction, flights of laughter-inducing hyperbole, public obsessiveness, repeated self-contradiction, betrayals of utter ignorance, and failed attempts to mimic the Bard by coining bizarre neologisms to match his wandering moods.
Few among us have the raw intellectual firepower to go where he has. Fortunately, the internet tubes allow us to track his movements over time – an otherwise dizzying effort made more vertiginous by Sullivan’s kaleidoscopic mind. As with all things Sullivan, the best place to start is with human genitalia.
To say that Sullivan has focused his laser-like mind on human reproductive organs is to engage in an understatement worthy of the master himself. We could simply look at Sullivan’s relentless, years-long focus on circumcision (a relentlessness not well-captured by the internet tubes, as Sullivan’s archives traditionally become difficult to search when he moves from site to site), an unusual genre for a man who will never have children and who is not Jewish or Muslim, though perhaps not so unusual given his general interest in the member in question. One could focus on his decision to start calling a 4,000 year old religious tradition “male genital mutilation,” thus cleverly calling untold generations of Jews child abusers and torturers, a decision that marks the sort of intellectual territory into which only a man bravely unwilling to live in Israel can tread.
But to spend too much time on mere ponderings on the presence or absence of foreskin is to do Sullivan an injustice. Anyone can bloviate on that. Few men of letters — indeed, few doctors — can diagnose a woman’s pregnancy forensically from a handful of news articles and photographs. Few are gifted with the ability to toss out thousands of words as tightly organized as Ulysses at the drop of a hat and still able to offer informed medical opinions on changes to the female body during mid- and late-term pregnancy — opinions at odds with normal understandings of human biology and the preeminent textbooks of the field.
But then again, few men are Andrew Sullivan. Depending on the day, Andrew Sullivan might not even be Andrew Sullivan.
Dr. Sullivan on Sarah Palin’s Reproductive Abilities
Perhaps the most remarkable part of the 2008 Presidential campaign was neither black sheep Republican John McCain’s nomination as the standard-bearer for a party he’d often accused of intolerance and hard-heartedness, nor Barack Obama’s unlikely cruise to the Presidency, but rather the groundswell of interest in the activities of Sarah Palin’s private parts.
Mrs. Palin, for those fortunate enough not to care about national politics, is the governor of Alaska, a married mother and not infrequent moose hunter. In early 2008, she informed her cabinet and the press for the first time that she was seven months pregnant — a somewhat surprising revelation given that she was in her mid-forties, and was not visibly showing much of a pregnancy belly. Nevertheless, two months later, she delivered a baby boy named Trig, who was subsequently diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Some months later, in a more than slightly surprising turn of events, Governor Palin was nominated for the vice-presidency of the United States.
As is typical of modern American politics, this turned Mrs. Palin into a hate object for roughly half of the country; the fact that she’d had the tackiness not to murder her defective son in utero made things worse. Lacking a toehold on which to criticize her record — a reformer who had challenged the old guard of her party and state government — and unable to fall back on remarks about her looks or any of the other, usual personal assaults, a select group of internet personalities decided that Mrs. Palin’s son Trig must, in fact, be her daughter’s, who was then a senior in high school. This being modern American political online writing, proof of this ridiculous assertion was neither offered nor demanded, and a thousand would-be obstetricians immediately began poking at pictures of a teenaged girl to demonstrate, for all the world to see, that those photos showed she was large enough to be pregnant. That these same people would be the first to cry in fury if the child being subjected to this humiliation were not the child of a Republican was, again as usual, lost on the lay doctors caught in their five-minute hate.
Andrew Sullivan immediately leaped into the fray. Unlike the rest of these non-experts, many of whom began to back off of the story when word emerged that Mrs. Palin’s daughter was pregnant and had been close to the time of Trig’s birth, Sullivan, who apparently received a secret medical degree while attending Harvard, began obsessively following this story, turning the Atlantic from a fairly uninteresting opinion website into a leading journal of gynecology and obstetrics. Rarely in human history has a gay man been that obsessed with a married woman’s vagina.
This became, perhaps even more than the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency, Sullivan’s driving motivation during the 2008 campaign, if the quantity of his writings are any indication of his drive. While others were intimidated by photos of Mrs. Palin in late-stage pregnancy looking like a woman in late-stage pregnancy, the biological impossibility of a seventeen year-old girl giving birth to two non-fraternal children less than eleven months apart, and other indicia of what the rest of us take for ordinary reality, that laser-like mind knew no fear. Without a blow by blow of those two months of Herculean effort, it’s impossible to fully capture the way in which the Atlantic rivaled the New England Journal of Medicine in pushing the edge of medical consensus; a sampling will have to suffice. (Note that I’m not delving into the way Sullivan immediately leaped into the breach on the news that McCain had selected Palin to inform us that a woman about whom he had heard virtually nothing was unqualified to hold the sinecure of the Vice Presidency, and stayed on-message while he revealed his understanding of gynecology — I don’t want any readers to think I’m spinning his acumen from thin air.)
The mark of a genius, and of an utter crank, is delving into conspiracy theories at which the rest of us scoff. When the rest of us were mocking the scientific illiterates masquerading as members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Sullivan raced to their vanguard:
Let me address one question being lobbed at me. Is raising questions about the Palin pregnancy a smear campaign? Here’s why it’s not. The circumstantial evidence for weirdness around this pregnancy is so great that legitimate questions arise - questions anyone with common sense would ask. The answers to those questions can easily be provided. This is an easier call than the “cross in the dirt” story, which will never be resolved one way or another. The McCain-Palin campaign can resolve this now with medical records, as are mandated for presidential candidates anyway.
The job of a press is to ask questions which have a basis in fact. Read for yourself the full chronology here. See whether you are certain there are no legitimate questions worth asking. I have claimed nothing. I am asking the McCain campaign to resolve a factual question which they must already have covered in the vetting process. After all, this baby was a centerpiece of the public case for Palin made by the Republicans. They made it an issue - and therefore it is legitimate to ask questions about it. That’s all.
(Only a truly supple writer can respond to accusations of objectifying a child by referring to him as “it.”) Obviously, Sullivan was aware of the irony of linking a Daily Kos diary as authoritative of anything other than a DSM diagnosis, but he was busy finding wheels within wheels in a widening gyre. Gentle as always, the man who once rationalized away his faithful-to-some-future-form-of-Catholicism as a bar to supporting legalized abortion in the name of privacy explained that Sarah Palin’s vagina was an open target as the post-convention bounce and Palin’s star appeal was carrying the ticket in front of Barack Obama and that other guy:
It seems to me that if you are on record saying that your life is an open book, and you have a state-run web-page about your infant son, and your own children’s travel is paid for by the state, and you presented your infant son at a convention televised across the entire world, and you sent out a press release outing your own daughter’s current pregnancy, then it is not despicable, evil, vile or outrageous for the press to ask factual, answerable questions about Sarah Palin’s experiences as a pregnant and non-pregnant mother and about her marriage and about her parenting of her children. Palin herself just said so.
Some might see this as passive-aggressive mealymouthing; some are not open to the wisdom of Sullivan. Fortunately, he soon skipped past subtlety:
These are all good points. With her very public pregnancy and labor and the birth of Trig Palin, however, we are in new territory. I don’t believe that the way a newborn was displayed at the convention - and the obvious political and religious symbolism of deciding to go ahead with a Down Syndrome pregnancy as proof of your pro-life credentials - is the usual, formal presentation of a candidate’s family. It intersects with an issue of public policy and the question of abortion rights which are, of course, central to the McCain-Palin campaign. Part of their political message is directed at the Christianist base on this very question. In fact, that is obviously one reason Palin was selected. I don’t think it’s fair to do all this, give Trig his own web-page on the state website - and then refuse to even answer the press’s questions about the whole experience. I mean: Palin and her obstetrician, despite talking freely to the press in the past, refused to return the New York Times’ phone calls in what most saw as a puff-piece last Monday. Why? Is the NYT not deferent enough?
Some might call this straining logic past the breaking point — because a woman has a child, has been seen with said child, and has political views, her obstetrician needs to tell the world about the child’s exit from the womb. But again, very few of us work on the same mental wavelength as Sullivan.
Of course it gets more direct. Impressively, this continued not merely through the campaign (including a promise to stay on the story until someone else saw what he alone could see), but beyond the election, though it has died down since, presumably because Sullivan has returned to private practice and is no longer offering free forensic pregnancy analyses over the internet.
Behold Andrew Sullivan, a man who contains infinite contradictions: A believer in privacy, except a woman’s medical records, who never seemed upset that his preferred horse in the race released nothing besides a one-page “All clear!” note from his doctor; an opponent of the objectification of homosexuals, who objectified at least one, and arguably two, children; a professional journalist with a boundless understanding of not only applied medicine, but also hospital protocol and the art of diagnosis by news clipping and photograph.
Can such a man be constrained by the mere tedium of human physiology? No, such a mind can — must — be drawn to questions of the divine. Such a man, with a mind before whom John Chrysostom, Augustine, Aquinas, Teresa of Avila, Maimonides, Wojtyla, and Ratzinger must bow, has a greater calling before him: Define dogmatically the Catholic Church, as none have before. Do what the Magisterium is unable and unwilling to do, and explain how abortion and homosexuality fit squarely into a faith that has opposed these things for two thousand years.
Father Sullivan on the Catholic Church
Some might say, as a mere prelate once did in gently rebuking that scion of modern American Catholicism, Ted Kennedy, One Pope at a time. Those men are not Andrew Sullivan.
Based on the bulk of his writing, Sullivan’s determination to rewrite the Catechism of the Catholic Church either stems from, or is at least largely marked by, two words: Intrinsically disordered, as in,homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, which has been, in one way, shape, or form, the teaching of the Catholic Church since it was just Judaism’s baby brother, and is enshrined in the Catechism today. Sullivan has grappled manfully with this statement for two and a half decades, wrestling with it, pinning it to the ground like Jacob with the angel, but always having it slip from under his grasp at the last instant. Obviously, he understands that objectively disordered does not refer to human beings – perish the thought that he would suggest otherwise — and that this description in the Catechism is followed with the admonition,
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
Knowing this, Sullivam never gives into the sort of hysteria that might lead a lesser man to cry, ”Sadly, at this point in history, the Roman Catholic Church refuses to acknowledge the dignity and equality of gay people. We are deemed by Rome’s hierarchs to be ‘intrinsically disordered’, unworthy of the priesthood, sick, enemies of our own families and a threat to civilization as a whole.” No. Not a one such as he. Rather, he has taken to argument, and never polemic.
Thus, one can trace the careful rhetorical ground Sullivan has trod these many years in exploring the delicate relationship between a Church that condemns the sin and demands dignity for the sinner on the one hand, and the men and women who, as we all do, sin. One can see his attempt to tease out the teaching and fact of the Catholic Church while groping for a modest, respectful new theology.
Catholic theology is a superficially straightforward thing with layers of meaning into which men can spend their lifetimes diving, as Sullivan clearly has. It is the result of Scriptural teaching, two thousand years of Tradition, and the work large and small by men and women who develop it. For far too many American Catholics, however, it’s the work of The Pope. Sullivan is unsparing in his attempts to parody these people, never allowing his disquiet with the Church’s stance on where his penis does not belong to drive him to dementia – if anything drives him to dementia, it is not that. Indeed, so complete is the parody that you would have thought he’d utterly lost his mind on the ascension of Benedict XVI to the Throne of St. Peter:
HABEMUS PAPAM: So quick? So soon? What can that mean? Ratzinger?? The dread rises.
And so on, toward The Fundamentalist Triumph, Still in Shock, Etc. That was April of 2005. And, May, June, July, and, really, the rest of 2005. Again, a lay reader might think Sullivan unhealthily obsessed with a septuagenarian prelate whose great goal in life was to be an academic; but that lay reader doesn’t understand that Sullivan is forcing us to deal with the colossal levels of stupid out in the everyday world by thrusting it in our faces.
Sullivan sees deep plans within plans, and lives by undercurrents the likes of which we mere mortals cannot fathom; is it any wonder that his break with any apparent connection with Catholic teaching or thought, Scripture, and reality came when he perceived a great teaching moment on Benedict XVI’s ascension? Certainly not, because if there is anything about which we can be certain, it is that Sullivan is as constant as the polar ice.
Sullivan’s problem with pre-35th Century Catholicism, he has repeatedly assured his readers, is in its offenses against human dignity, human dignity only usually being a code word for sodomy. For example, Sullivan decried the abuse of minors by Catholic priests almost one-tenth as much as he decried the Church’s position on homosexuality during the time period when the abuse scandals raged in this country. Indeed, Sullivan’s concern for Trig Palin’s well-being and ancestry is not the only time he has struck out on behalf of children everywhere. Does the Catholic Church teach that elective abortion is a sin so terrible that it automatically yields a penalty of excommunication? Does it not understand that some children lead hopeless lives, and that their mothers, in their zone of privacy, should simply end those lives (with skull crushings, chemical burns, and dismemberment)?
Sullivan does. He understands, too, that the act of torturing a handful of men places a society beyond the pale, but a government that makes the instrument of the murder of 40 million legal to all comers is in a grayer moral space.
Sullivan frequently employs a rhetorical trick that would seem pale, shabby, cheap, stupid, weak, and obvious in the hands of a less skillful writer, but that in his hands is a gorgeous case of knowing irony, shared with the reader. He publishes “letters” or “emails” from “readers” – blurbs that echo exactly his point of the day, week, or tedious lifetime, always perfectly in tune with the song sheet from which he is singing, always obviously written by Sullivan or one of his assistants – with the full understanding that no one is fooled, and no one could be. To add to the post-modern bouquet in these posts, Sullivan frequently offers “letters” that are laced with historical inaccuracy and flaws of logic so great that one would imagine their writers to be suffering from some particularly insidious form of dementia. Obviously, these only work if the writer and the audience know everyone’s in on the game; otherwise, it seems like a weak prop from an increasingly enfeebled mind incapable of even the barest sense of shame.
An almost perfect example is this:
“Many women believe they are acting out of compassion (however mistakenly); is it possible for a torturer to hold similar beliefs?”
In fact, it is possible. During the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, the primary purpose of torture was to get the victim to convert to Catholicism. Those doing the torturing believed that the conversion would save the victim’s soul. So they did, in fact, consider torture to be an act of compassion (the ultimate act of compassion, actually). And often the victim would be killed after the torture, but that was okay because the soul had already been saved. How compassionate.
If this is not art, nothing is: In one fell swoop, the “reader” manages to skip past authoritative work by Benzion Netanyahu, among others, showing that the Inquisitions were political instruments that were frequently aimed by nobles, commoners, and various Jewish factions in Spain against other Jewish (and Muslim and Christian and…) factions in Spain; revive a blood libel from the Reformation to aim at the Catholic Church; and suggest an equivalence between torture and abortion. Sullivan truly saves his most piquant work for these “reader” offerings. Obviously, only a gibbering idiot could take such a thing seriously, but therein lies the art, because Sullivan plays his audience straight, openly pretending that they must be idiots, knowing that they’re in on the joke, and that the joke is the writing.
Indeed, a joke may be the best way to characterize his entire didactic method on the Church’s teaching on human life. But only if you’re not paying attention.
Another good example is found here. Obviously, Sullivan is not engaging in the sort of lazy polemic one would expect of a slow eighth grader held back from confirmation for years on end because he refuses to read any of his Catechism lessons; rather, he is using his “reader” and his own commentary to force us to recognize that there are an enormous number of brain-damaged illiterates in the world, and in the Faithful, who for example, believe that Joseph Ratzinger was the original author of the Didache. Only by grappling with something so mind-jarringly simplistic can we begin to see into the rarefied theology into which Sullivan is trying to lead the Church, even if he never does bother to explain what that theology is.
Why the unfortunate loss of life of the most vulnerable among us, and the fact that men and women brazenly sin, might be arguments against the teachings prohibiting murder and artificial insemination is on a level of understanding that surpasses the plane on which the rest of us dwell; we must have faith that someday, Sullivan will reach back to us and bring us around to the Way, the Truth, and the Sullivan.
Professor Sullivan on American Politics
More than his fascination with the delivery of Trig Palin, more than his quixotic quest to convince anyone other than himself that the Catholic Church is a Protestant denomination, perhaps the largest image for which Andrew Sullivan has been known these last fifteen years is a political wanderer. A Brit unable to vote in this country, its governance ranks up there with his obsession with the Pet Shop Boys (in fairness, topics of roughly equal gravity) in the volume and intensity of his writings. Long-time readers of Sullivan – those who do not speak seriously of the Elder Gods – note that he was an iconoclastic supporter of Bill Clinton, who was disgusted by the Clintons by the time they left office; then an iconoclastic supporter of George W. Bush, who was disgusted with Bush by the time he left office; and is now a fairly open, unabashed, gushing admirer of President Obama. What’s interesting, though, is how his politics have changed in just four years.
THE END OF CONSERVATISM: But conservatism as we have known it is now over. People like me who became conservatives because of the appeal of smaller government and more domestic freedom are now marginalized in a big-government party, bent on using the power of the state to direct people’s lives, give them meaning and protect them from all dangers. Just remember all that Bush promised last night: an astonishingly expensive bid to spend much more money to help people in ways that conservatives once abjured. He pledged to provide record levels of education funding, colleges and healthcare centers in poor towns, more Pell grants, seven million more affordable homes, expensive new HSAs, and a phenomenally expensive bid to reform the social security system. I look forward to someone adding it all up, but it’s easily in the trillions. And Bush’s astonishing achievement is to make the case for all this new spending, at a time of chronic debt (created in large part by his profligate party), while pegging his opponent as the “tax-and-spend” candidate. The chutzpah is amazing. At this point, however, it isn’t just chutzpah. It’s deception. To propose all this knowing full well that we cannot even begin to afford it is irresponsible in the deepest degree. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the only difference between Republicans and Democrats now is that the Bush Republicans believe in Big Insolvent Government and the Kerry Democrats believe in Big Solvent Government. By any measure, that makes Kerry - especially as he has endorsed the critical pay-as-you-go rule on domestic spending - easily the choice for fiscal conservatives. It was also jaw-dropping to hear this president speak about tax reform. Bush? He has done more to lard up the tax code with special breaks and new loopholes than any recent president. On this issue - on which I couldn’t agree more - I have to say I don’t believe him. Tax reform goes against the grain of everything this president has done so far. Why would he change now?
Barely four years later, here he is discussing Barack Obama’s Convention speech:
It was a deeply substantive speech, full of policy detail, full of people other than the candidate, centered overwhelmingly on domestic economic anxiety. It was a liberal speech, more unabashedly, unashamedly liberal than any Democratic acceptance speech since the great era of American liberalism. But it made the case for that liberalism - in the context of the decline of the American dream, and the rise of cynicism and the collapse of cultural unity. His ability to portray that liberalism as a patriotic, unifying, ennobling tradition makes him the most lethal and remarkable Democratic figure since John F Kennedy…
He took every assault on him and turned them around. He showed not just that he understood the experience of many middle class Americans, but that he understood how the Republicans have succeeded in smearing him. And he didn’t shrink from the personal charges; he rebutted them. Whoever else this was, it was not Adlai Stevenson. It was not Jimmy Carter. And it was less afraid and less calculating than Bill Clinton…
Look: I’m biased at this point. I’m one of those people, deeply distressed at what has happened to America, deeply ashamed of my own misjudgments, who has shifted out of my ideological comfort zone because this man seems different to me, and this moment in history seems different to me. I’m not sure we have many more chances to get off the addiction to foreign oil, to prevent a calamitous terrorist attack, to restore constitutional balance in the hurricane of a terror war.
I’ve said it before - months and months ago. I should say it again tonight. This is a remarkable man at a vital moment. America would be crazy to throw this opportunity away. America must not throw this opportunity away.
What’s remarkable here is what’s missing: Talk of tax reform, talk of control over rampant spending, talk ofprudence. Remarkably, at the height of the Iraq War, Sullivan seemed fixated on spending, and with Iraq under control and terrorism muted and spending through the roof, his first focus was on the war powers of the Presidency. A cynic might say that Sullivan could only see Bush’s weaknesses and was inordinately blind to Obama’s.
But we’re not cynics here. Instead, we are devotees trying to track our way through Sullivan’s mental progression, disciples whose only hope lies in understanding how so great a man could so completely whipsaw from a critical view of a man he’d once supported to a sycophantic lay worshiper of another, equally obvious politician.
Some attribute this to President Obama’s pretty face. That’s demeaning. Some attribute it to George W. Bush’s stance on gay marriage – but that would be ridiculous, not merely because it would suggest that Sullivan is a one-dimensional writer obsessed with sex, but also because it would make Sullivan seem like an utter nutter for hating former Vice President Dick Cheney (a proponent of gay marriage and federalism) with the intensity of a thousand suns. (It would also raise questions about the man’s sanity in another way: Candidate Obama was clear that he opposed gay marriage, and occasionally likes to have a good laugh about angry, protesting gays. Yet Sullivan’s admiration continues.)
No. These are too prosaic, too common, too easy to destroy. What could drive a man from admiration and defense for a governor from Texas who hewed to Sullivan’s then-preferred doctrine of subsidiarity to calling him a war criminal? What could so completely rearrange a man’s entire view of the world – other, of course, than some terrible disease afflicting his mind?
The answer is obvious: The Jews.
One sign of a writer’s mental disfigurement, laziness, undiagnosed psychoses, or, obviously in the case of Sullivan, inhuman insight, is the gradual realization that the term “neoconservative” is a useful stand-in for “Jews whose loyalty belongs first to Israel, and then to the United States, if at all.” Sullivan has clearly reached this point, as one can note from some of his most recent thoughts.
Putting to the side that Danielle Pletka is not, actually, a neoconservative in the traditional sense of the word — she’s been a mainstream conservative, along the lines of John Bolton (who, despite all the boxes drawn online, also rejects the neocon label), for years — this really is a remarkable foray. It’s impressive not only for the acceptance of the blood libel to which the Left has grown too accustomed the last eight years; not only for the implicit suggestion that Sullivan and President Obama have the freedom of the Middle East at heart (a suggestion belied by every word from President Obama’s mouth since he accused the Jews of driving the U.S. into the Iraq War in 2002); but also for the conclusion summed up in the title of the post — “Neocons For Ahmadinejad.” A man who once praised the virtues of incremental change and guarded optimism now sees the public expression of these things as proof of support for a murderous puppet for a dictatorial regime, and therefore for the regime itself – so that America will be forced into a war against Iran.
We who only dwell in an I.Q. range between 100 and 200 would be disturbed were our writing to seem appropriate at The American Conservative or Mother Jones; indeed, for many of us, that would be a signal moment, the point at which we sit down, take a deep breath, and ask a physician for some mind-altering medication. Sullivan transcends such petty concerns, and adopts – presumably because no writing form, no matter how dipped in madness, can remain beyond his formidable talents – the paranoid style so beloved of chlorpromazine recipients the world over, in writing on the Washington Post’s decision to fire its disturbed columnist/blogger/hack, Dan Froomkin:
A simply astounding move by the paper - getting rid of the one blogger, Dan Froomkin, who kept it real and kept it interesting. Dan’s work on torture may be one reason he is now gone. The way in which the WaPo has been coopted by the neocon right, especially in its editorial pages, is getting more and more disturbing. This purge will prompt a real revolt in the blogosphere. And it should.
But this descent into anti-Semitic madness — a case of using indirects to find direction out, certainly — cannot be real. After all, Sullivan denies this canard as being unworthy of response. After all, many of his best friends are Jewish.
Surely Sullivan, keen observer of men, sees what we cannot: That the Jews (or rather, a subset of American Jews) are in close collaboration with Israel, are working to undermine our brave President’s policy of allowing Iranians to die in their streets, never understanding that President Obama’s indifference is actually a brilliant ploy to force the theocrats of Iran to spontaneously step down and allow a thousand fabulous flowers to bloom. You see, he’s clearly not taking issue with the “neocons” for wanting to toss out the clerics; he discerns that because of their love of blood-of-Gentile pastries and determination to overtly strike out at theocrats, dictators, and Palestinian children, they’re being counterproductive. For years, they undermined the Iraq project they initiated by personally torturing innocent terrorists. For years, they plotted in their cabals to send advanced weapons technology to Israel. For years, they allowed Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — secret converts to Judaism — to destroy America’s chance to do what they’d set out to do, and free the world for buggery, abortion, and transgender band concerts. They destroyed the Bush presidency, and made necessary the Buddhic wisdom of Barack Obama.
In other words, the Jews ruined everything, in good faith.
Some men might see in this more than a ghost of lurid, frothing, nutty-as-a-fruitcake anti-Semitism. But again, those men are not Andrew Sullivan.
The question, then, is what to make of this man — the Man, in a sense – and where he goes from here. Is he our Mahdi? A fellow traveler, stumbling with the rest of the column as he tries to follow in the dust of a great leader? A future poet laureate? A batty anti-Semite with a bad tendency to obsessiveness, an unhealthy fascination with genitalia, and miserable taste in music, incapable of even a minimal understanding of basic theological texts?
Only Sullivan knows.
(Isn't this perfectly brilliant writing? - Mrs. P)
H/T - Hot Air
In this case, the United States government has a majority interest in AIG. AIG utilizes consolidated financing whereby all funds flow through a single port to support all of its activities, including Sharia-compliant financing. Pursuant to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the government has injected AIG with tens of billions of dollars, without restricting or tracking how this considerable sum of money is spent. At least two of AIG’s subsidiary companies practice Sharia-compliant financing, one of which was unveiled after the influx of government cash. After using the $40 billion from the government to pay down the $85 billion credit facility, the credit facility retained $60 billion in available credit, suggesting that AIG did not use all $40 billion consistent with its press release. Finally, after the government acquired a majority interest in AIG and contributed substantial funds to AIG for operational purposes, the government co-sponsored a forum entitled “Islamic Finance 101.”
The judge concluded that “these facts, taken together, raise a question of whether the government’s involvement with AIG has created the effect of promoting religion and sufficiently raise Plaintiff’s claim beyond the speculative level, warranting dismissal inappropriate at this stage in the proceedings.
Given the stakes — a finding of unconstitutional behavior would implicate billions of dollars’ worth of government spending — it is predictable that the Department of Justice will seek summary judgment following discovery. The plaintiff’s case, however, will be a relatively easy one to prove. The facts are, as Judge Zatkoff observed, damning: The government owns and controls AIG. Taxpayer funds authorized by an explicit legislative grant are being used to pay sharia authorities — in other words, they’re being used to legitimate and promote Islamic religious law.
Thus, the District Court’s ruling in this case takes on considerable importance. It makes possible the exposure in a court of law of the insidious workings of our sharia-adherent enemies — and the extent to which they are being enabled by the executive branch and what is left of the now largely government-owned American financial sector. A proper judicial review of the facts could mark the beginning of the end of sharia-compliant finance in this country — and, with luck, a reversal of fortune for the larger campaign to bring sharia to this country, of which the AIGs and their sharia-compliant products are but the leading edge.
Call me crazy, but ever since President Obama meddled in the Middle East with his one day moustache and no wife at his side Cairo speech and the resulting devastation it had on the Iranian populace with the smack down following Ahmadinejad's 'election', I can't help but think of those ants and our neighbor's family room addition. After all, it was during the Carter years those Carpenter ants left our house for our neighbor's new addition.
If it's any consolation, the neighbor's new family room addition is gorgeous. But, what else would you expect, it was built during the Bush years....
(Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things")
Panicking people who clog all the highways
Hungry green seas that go ripping ‘cross causeways
Hurricane Hunters taking to wing!
These are a few of what hurricanes bring!
Huge waves that on the beaches are crashing
High winds that on the houses are lashing
Roiling black clouds that blot out the sun
These are what make hurricane season so fun!
When the wind’s calm
When the sky’s blue
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember what hurricanes do
And, then I don’t feel so bad!
Sharp winds that send the sand to go raking
Wild seas that soon on seawalls are breaking
Bright-eyed young weathermen starting to drool
These are what make hurricane season so cool!
Rising floodwaters and rains that are whipping
Warnings to seamen and dangers to shipping
Cutters and choppers and rescue at sea!
This is why hurricanes give me such glee.
When the wind’s calm
When the sky’s blue
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember what hurricanes do
And, then I don’t feel so bad!
Copyright owned by ODT Music, Ltd.
It all began when T. Wallace Wooly, Jr., the soul of propriety and vegetarianism rescued the nude, strangely unharmed, and smolderingly attractive Jennifer from the burning hotel. It was not time to quibble about how he would look in front-page photos coming down the stairs with a nude girl slung over his shoulders. But when he discovered a week later that he had married the lady he seriously wished he had shown more discretion and less valor. For there was something extremely unconventional about Jennifer's antics. In fact, Mr. Wooly soon realized that the yellow-eyed Jennifer was a witch - the kind who would leave you in peace only when she lay buried at a crossroads with a stake through her heart. And the kind who made it necessary for Mr. Wooly to forsake carrot juice and seek peace in some monumental binges.
There are professional and there are amateurs in all lines of human endeavor. Mr. Wooly was a professional insurance man, a professional after-dinner orator, an amateur Christian (or perhaps here his standing was ambiguous), and also he was a professional true lover. He had been faithful to the shadow of the shadow of Mrs. Wooly; now he glimpsed an opportunity to be faithful to another bearing the name of Jennifer. He spoke his thoughts aloud, and even while he spoke them he felt a hand upon his shoulder. It burned through the fabric the padding, the cambric shirt, till it spoke to his very skin. A real hand.
"Mr. Wooly!" said a tense, a singing, albeit nasal voice.
He dared to look up. It was not her ghost. It was Jennifer herself. The blue velvet was in tatters; it hardly existed below her waist. Its upper front, however hung, unfastened, miraculously remained...Mr. Wooly gazed at her, his eyes like those of a moribund horse.
"Forgive me," he sighed.
"Jennifer," Mr. Wooly said. "Jennifer" And then he heard himself saying: "Will you marry me?"
"She seemed to think, She bowed her head. "Yes, Mr. Wooly." she said, and there was an incisive click in her voice, as if invisible handcuffs were being locked in. "Tomorrow." Here her body went limp and he had to carry the wench. He took her into his bedroom and across it to its massive door. She moved slightly then. "Where are you taking me?" "Home," he said, contriving to press a button to summon Bentley.
"Put me to bed darling," she said and added: "You won't need Bentley."
What could a fundamentally kind and chivalrous man, do but obey the poor lady? He gave the portrait of Mrs. Wooly an imploring look: the painted gleam behind the painted drooping eyeglasses did not, however, soften.
He begged her forgiveness with an agonized, beseeching roll of his big brown eyes and a shrug of his weighted shoulders. He parted the blue brocade curtains of that bed, deposited the half-naked Jennifer and snapped on the soft, rosy glow of the reading light.
"My shoes," sighed the lady. He understood that she meant him to take them off. They were of gilded kid, and he thought - a little madly- that golden kid was as pagan as the golden calf had been, all the while within himself the tides of his soul dizzily alternated from ebb to flow, seeking an equilibrium that had for so many years been his. He hated this interloper with all his being. He humbly kissed her silken toe. She sighed and softly laughed. "What a bed!" she sighed and softly laughed. "we shall live in it, sleep and eat and take our exercise. A Madison Square Garden of a bed built for wrestling matches...
as David Letterman insists,
"slutty stewardess look"...
pray tell, is this?
First Lady Obama exiting Westminster Abbey.
The shoes just make the outfit,
don't you think?
Thanks to Arethusa.
Ok, about that whole Manhattan fracas.
My simple desire to numb the brain a bit and retreat into the prism of a heavy-bottomed tumbler (I'm describing a kind of glass, not a category of female) was thwarted from the outset. I asked for said beverage, and what should appear at my elbow some two and a quarter minutes later but something that had all the appearances of a heavy-bottomed T crammed with ice and in between that ice the amber outpourings of a bottle of Jim Beam. So far, so G, you say. But I had specifically ordered a Manhattan, and Manhattans, in my admittedly wide experience, usually come to the starting post a tad darker than the main ingredient, due to a generous infusion of dry vermouth.
With words and gestures I tried to make this clear to the servitor at my elbow. Usually, I admit, I would have downed the mixture (if indeed it was a mixture) without comment. I am, as a rule, a man who takes things as they come and would have, in the normal course of things, taken this pale Manhattan in my stride, assuming it to be some local variation on a venerable theme. But I had been sorely tried that day, what with business about the town, and when I had asked for a Manhattan I had in mind the kind of Manhattan where the bourbon and the vermouth vie with one another on the tongue for predominance, each putting forth their best effort to stimulate, and at the same time deaden, the troubled mind.
The whole problem was, I suspect, due to the fact that I don’t get out much. I am not is step with the latest thinking vis a vis bars and barmanship. And so, over those insular years, I have created my own version of the Manhattan, one where a jigger of bourbon and a jigger of vermouth are tossed into a tumbler packed with ice and, after a few shakes of bitters, leisurely sipped in between pulls at the ancestral pipe. The man behind the apron kept insisting that the darker red color I was looking for was due to—of all the hideous notions—grenadine (!) and freely offered to come back with a vat of the Shirley-Temple-makings and violate the sanctity of my personal happy hour with it. But I was firm and, I must say, Basil, you backed me up here staunchly. I don’t suppose you had the waiter in a headlock for more than, say, 45 seconds before he promised to put away the cherry juice, saving it for the next children’s party on the schedule. Rising from the floor and adjusting his apron, he said he would go and see how our mignonettes were coming along. Though victorious we too were gracious, suggesting to the maitre d’ that the man not be fired but merely horsewhipped behind the oldest dumpster in the alleyway.
As far as the liturgical dancer, Basil, I was in full accord with your proposed plan of action. Nothing would have pleased me more than to see the leotarded retard take a toss into the Jacuzzi-cum-font at the front of the edifice. May she choke on her beribboned baton and marry the youngest son of the guy with the fruity voice and the off-key guitar over by the choir bleachers. So far from thwarting your plans for her undoing, I was merely staggering beneath yet another example of liturgical lassitude: the lay Eucharistic ministers lounging at the back of the building swigging what was left of the Blood of Christ the same way they’d toss back a brewski after an afternoon on the riding mower. In my emotion I lurched backward, deflecting your well-aimed foot. When you kicked the walker out from under that retired nun in no habit and sensible shoes, no one could have been more surprised than myself.
Surprised, but not apologetic.
Tomorrow will likely bring more bad news for President Barack Obama on the number one issue for voters -- the economy. The Labor Department's monthly job report will almost certainly show unemployment topping 9%, with a couple hundred thousand more jobs lost in May.
It will get worse before jobs get better. Congressional Budget Director Douglas W. Elmendorf recently predicted that unemployment will continue rising into the second half of next year and peak above 10%.
Mr. Obama has an ingenious approach to job losses: He describes them as job gains. For example, last week the president claimed that 150,000 jobs had been created or saved because of his stimulus package. He boasted, "And that's just the beginning."
However, at the beginning of January, 134.3 million people were employed. At the start of May, 132.4 million Americans were working. How was Mr. Obama magically able to conjure this loss of 1.9 million jobs into an increase of 150,000 jobs?
As my former White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto points out on his blog, the Labor Department does not and cannot collect data on "jobs saved." So the Obama administration is asking that we accept its "clairvoyant ability to estimate," and the White House press corps has let Mr. Obama's ludicrous claim go virtually unchallenged.
Still, there are limits to Mr. Obama's rhetorical tricks. Even he cannot turn job losses into real job gains. And he won't be rescued by stimulus spending.
Former National Economic Council Director Keith Hennessey made a persuasive case on his blog that the stimulus will be ineffective because the additional economic growth it spurs will come six to nine months later than it could have.
This is partly because, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates, only $185 billion (23% of a $787 billion stimulus package) will be spent this fiscal year. The government will spend an additional $399 billion next fiscal year. The balance -- $203 billion -- will be spent between fiscal years 2011 and 2019, long after the economy has turned on its own power and for its own reasons. In addition, much of the stimulus that went this year for tax cuts and transfer payments has been saved, not spent. (The national savings rate went from less than 0% to about 5%.)
If the Obama administration were more serious about growing the economy than just growing government, the stimulus would have been front-loaded into this fiscal year.
In addition, the claim made by Team Obama that every dollar in stimulus translates into a dollar-and-a-half in growth is economic fiction. The costs of stimulus reduce future growth. No country has ever spent itself to prosperity. The price of stimulus has to be paid sometime.
Any real improvement in the economy so far is more likely the result of the Federal Reserve expanding the money supply and the Fed and Treasury shoring up the financial sector.
But the Fed's actions are risky. Easy money and expansionary policies are not sustainable. We may soon be in for a bout of inflation unless the Fed soaks up much of the money it flooded into the system. The government is also likely to hamper private investment as it uses a vast amount of capital to finance its debt. And when the Fed stomps on its monetary brakes, as eventually it must, we'll get sluggish growth.
The irony for Democrats is that the Fed may hit the brakes in the run-up to the 2010 congressional elections or the 2012 presidential election.
It is becoming clear that the economy is now the top issue. Mr. Obama's presidency may well rise or fall on it. The economy will be his responsibility long before next year's elections. Americans may give him a chance to turn things around, but voters can turn unforgiving very quickly if promised jobs don't materialize.
That's what happened in Louisiana, where voters accepted Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco's missteps before Hurricane Katrina but brutally rejected her afterward because she failed to turn the state around.
Until now, the new president has benefited from public willingness to give him a honeymoon. He decided to use that grace period to push for the largest expansion of government in U.S. history and to reward political allies (see the sweetheart deals Big Labor received in the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies).
The difficulty for Mr. Obama will be when the public sees where his decisions lead -- higher inflation, higher interest rates, higher taxes, sluggish growth, and a jobless recovery.