Do you want to know what Andrew Sullivan thinks about dropping mushrooms? Here you go.
Do you want to know what Andrew Sullivan thinks about dropping mushrooms? Here you go.
I pitched The Awl the other day about a story I wanted to write about my trip to New Hampshire and my question for Ron Paul. Basically, the idea was that I’d write about how much I regretted not just asking Paul about the racist newsletters published under his name, and I’d reflect on that, or whatever — some shit. I would write some shit. Choire got back to me and said they were pretty much booked through the year, and I thanked him for listening.
Anyway, whatever. Now we have Andrew Sullivan “defending” Paul as the attacks on his racist record gain renewed traction:
It seems clear to me that Paul has associated with people with some vile views, and profited from it. At best, that is reckless negligence. At worst, it is a blind eye to real ugliness. Neither interpretation flatters Paul. Against that, you have to weigh his character as it has revealed itself over three presidential campaigns, his opponents (whose extremism and bigotry do not need to be ferreted out), and his argument: that domestic liberty requires a drastic re-callibration of our military-industrial complex and an end to the drug war. Voting is not some kind of purist abstraction. Every candidate is flawed. The moment and the argument matter. Viewing it all together, I would not have a problem supporting Paul if I were caucusing in Iowa. And I think a victory will help enormously in reorienting the GOP away from its dangerous foreign policy belligerence.
Yeah, um. No. The solution isn’t to support Paul, the solution is to support Democrats.
It was a great few days for yours truly to make peace with some ideological foes. On the plane out to Los Angeles, who do I bump into but Bill Bennett and his wife, cordial and respectful as ever? On the way back, I kid you not, Andrew Breitbart was in the seat next to me. We’ve never met, but we’ve emailed over the years. He’s hot-headed and a bundle of bearish energy and nerves. But we had a blast on the plane, with him sharing his latest pop music obsessions on his iPod with me.
Breitbart is actually a kind of straight gay: loves pop music, hates rock n roll, lost interest in radio music around the time of grunge (as did I) and now believes there’s a revival of joyous pop going on. Oh, and, yes, we talked Trig a little. How could we not?
Anyway, I happen to personally like him, and Bill, and am touched they don’t take my public debating personally.
I actually find it disturbing (if unsurprising) that they don’t take criticism of their cynical, debate-subverting bullshit personally. Criticisms of them for their behaviour absolutely amount to evaluations of them as people.
Breitbart especially is a cynical nihilist profiting by subverting the possibility for rational democratic debate at a point where America’s claim to even being a democracy is growing more and more tenuous. This is a line that Sullivan has argued before. Dude is a resentment monger, and has directly worsened the conditions of society’s worst off through, for example, his campaigns against ACORN and Planned Parenthood.
If Sullivan takes these things seriously, I don’t really understand how he can “like” someone like that, regardless of how personable they are. Is it a Jesus thing? Jesus was all about loving thy neighbour, but I don’t think he ever said you had to like them.
I mean, I like my fair share of assholes, but I only like assholes I respect. I could never respect Breitbart.
John Cole’s point, that is.
Here is my plan- I AM NOT CUTTING TAXES BY TRILLIONS FOR RICH PEOPLE, AND THE TAX CUTS WE JUST EXTENDED WILL EXPIRE. Voila!
And he seems to believe this will actually end our looming fiscal crisis (while accusing me of being a “complete innumerate clown”). He also seems to think that the lower tax rates are unfunded additions to the debt, as Bush’s were. But they are paid for by eliminating tax loopholes, shelters and gimmicks. My proposal for more revenue would be to lower the tax rates less and use the extra money from getting rid of tax expenditures for the deficit. The removal of the myriad shelters and loopholes in the budget, moreover, would actually take these boondoggles away from the rich, making the tax environment fairer.
But when Cole is this angry, it’s hard to argue with him. And yes, the bold caps are his.
Sir, Andrew Sullivan, sir! What fucking planet do you live on, sir?
Cole isn’t arguing that letting the Bush tax cuts expire = a balanced budget; he’s arguing that letting the Bush tax cuts expire = a better budget outcome than implementing the Very Serious Paul Ryan Plan. Which it does! (He’s also arguing that forcing that poor and vulnerable to bear the brunt of the burden in rectifying the “looming fiscal crisis” is immoral, which Sullivan never addresses.) So, thanks for the strawman, Andrew Sullivan, and thanks for playing! But nobody is making the argument you’re (rather ineptly) swatting down.
ADDED! Cole, before the Sullivan response (I imagine there will be a glorious rant today, for what it’s worth):
What if Bernie Sanders sat down, wrote a “Plan for Prosperity,” and in it raised the top marginal rate on everyone over 250k a year to 70%, hiked capital gains, got rid of every deduction, got rid of all the loopholes, ended farm subsidies, put in place a VAT tax and a carbon tax, called for nationalizing the health care industry, making union membership mandatory, abolished the Defense Department and consolidated all the branches into a coastal and air defense force with 100,000 men, got rid of our nukes, allowed gay marriage nationwide, put in place a rigorous regulatory regime for food, water, environmental, and financial security, shortened the work week to 30 hours and raised the minimum wage to 22 dollars an hour, and gave DC and Puerto Rico statehood?
Actually, some of that sounds pretty good. But would Andrew Sullivan call that a serious plan? Would he call it brave? Would he insist that the Republicans come up with a counter-proposal and demand that they not politicize it. Because that is what he is doing with the equally fanciful GOP/Ryan plan.
Sullivan occasionally makes pinheaded political arguments, which basically amount to, “Not only have I not read Edmund Burke, I’m also a client.” This is one of those times.
John Cole at Balloon Juice has been having conniptions for the past few days over Andrew Sullivan’s endorsement of Paul Ryan’s Very Serious Budget Proposal. Needless to say, the proposal is obscene, but because Sullivan believes very deeply in “entitlement reform” (code for, “Fuck you, poor people!”), he has been unable to process all of the critiques of the plan from, you know, Nobel winning economists and the like. Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with policy wonkish-ness. Let’s just let Cole rant a little bit (because his rants are truly something):
The Ryan/GOP Plan, as has been pointed out to Sullivan a hundred times now with little to no effect, slashes taxes by trillions and makes up for those tax cuts by slashing trillions in services to our neediest members of society. For there to be “much more tax revenue in the plan,” all you would need to do is FUCKING NOTHING.NOTHING. Here is my plan- I AM NOT CUTTING TAXES BY TRILLIONS FOR RICH PEOPLE, AND THE TAX CUTS WE JUST EXTENDED WILL EXPIRE. Voila! We are automatically better off than we would be under the GOP Ryan plan. This GOP/RYAN plan is so ridiculous, so transparently absurd and based on flawed assumptions, magical thinking, and cheap parlor tricks that if you are really concerned about the debt and the status of our fiscal well-being, DOING NOTHING is a better option by light years.
Does he seriously not understand that outside the Halperin/Scarborough universe, he looks like a complete innumerate clown? Can his ideology really be blinding him to this extent? Is he simply incapable of absorbing anything that Krugman, Chait, and others point out? Is he really this easily fooled into what constitutes “courage” and “bravery?” Paul Ryan and the GOP just proposed massive tax cuts for the well off on the shoulders of the American people while ending Medicare and Medicaid, and Sullivan honestly thinks this is “brave” and a conversation starter? It’s so brave it exempts everyone who is currently on Medicare, so they won’t see what he is doing. That’s called a bribe in most circles, but it passes for “bravery” in Sullivan’s.
My god, this is painful to watch.
UPDATE: Cole is not going to let this thing die until Sullivan responds, which is why I love him.
UPDATE BY BEN: Sullivan writes (not in response to Cole, but to a reader):
But the proposals on Medicare and Medicaid would undoubtedly cut costs over the long run, and would obviously inflict sacrifice on many Americans. That’s why I remain of the view that the debate kicked off by Ryan is a good thing, because for the first time, the GOP has essentially owned and fessed up to the human costs of fiscal reform.
The first claim is wrong. Medicare and Medicaid cuts, as has been pointed out repeatedly, will not “undoubtedly” cut costs in the long run. Health expenses carried by Americans (whether indirectly through the state, or indirectly through private insurers) will likely increase with the loss of Medicare’s advantage in overhead. And even if that was compensated for by having more old people choose not to get treatment when they’re sick (really Sully?), and things ended up breaking even, it just means that public indebtedness will be transferred to the private sphere, and specifically to those people least equipped to deal with it. And what happens when those people take their outstanding debts to the grave, leaving the banks in the lurch? Anyone not want to bet on a government bailout?
And the second claim is scary. It’s suggestive of a desire to use pain for poor people as a heuristic for economic responsibility. That’s capitalist-fundamentalist barbarism at its purest.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is expected to soon deploy a tank-killing plane, the A-10 Warthog, to add another way to strike at Gadhafi’s ground forces.
I saw an A-10 Warthog demonstration once when I was thirteen or fourteen at the Abbotsford Airshow. It was terrifying. But that’s not the point. Of course it was terrifying. The point is that these aren’t for using against Libyan aircraft, nor, I feel safe in guessing, are they intended primarily to be deployed against Libyan anti-aircraft units, so it’s time to stop calling the operation a No Fly Zone (NFZ). A NFZ is part of the operation, but it’s only part of it. Having recognized this, the particulars of my argument from earlier in the week need amending. That said, I want to reaffirm the two fundamental points I tried to make:
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While Andrew Sullivan spends an awful lot of time concern trolling about debts and deficits and “entitlement reform,” you have to admit that his blog, The Daily Dish, pretty much sets the industry standard. He somehow covers everything, and even if he’s a bit too earnest for my tastes at times (“Know hope!”), and a bit of a moonbat at others (“Trig Palin Truth Now!”), he’s usually worth reading. That’s why I was sort of disheartened to hear of his upcoming move to Tina Brown’s Evil Media Empire, The Daily Beast:
But there are some opportunities you just can’t let pass by. The chance to be part of a whole new experiment in online and print journalism, in the Daily Beast and Newsweek adventure, is just too fascinating and exciting a challenge to pass up.
Translation: Tina Brown offered me a shit-ton of money, which was too “shit-ton” to pass up.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with making money, and it’s not like Sullivan wasn’t surrounded by some pretty terrible bloggers at The Atlantic (ahem, McArdle, Goldberg), but I can’t help but think that being Meghan McCain’s colleague — of all the people in all of the world — will damage the Sullivan brand a little bit. Meghan McCain’s only accomplishment is being born to noted confused and curmudgeonly old person John McCain, who you may remember from some election a couple of years ago. Meghan McCain writes an occasional column for Tina Brown, who for some inscrutable reason deigns to publish it at the Beast. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Sullivan to his new co-worker:
What’s happening in Wisconsin? The state in the Midwest is looking more like the Wild, Wild West.
This is Meghan McCain’s lede for a recent column on the protests in Wisconsin. If you think about it for even a second, you realize how nonsensical it is. When did Wisconsinites start having duels at high noon and panning for gold and wearing cowboy hats and spurs and chaps? And when did they start riding horses and moseying through saloon doors to order bourbon and play high stakes poker? When did they start warring with Injuns and lassoing bad guys and dodging dust-bunnies? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN, MEGHAN McCAIN?
The answer is that it didn’t, and that either the “Wild, Wild West” connotes something very, very different for Meghan McCain than it does for the rest of the world (possible, if not plausible!), or that Megan McCain is a bad writer.
Inevitably, the rest of the column is a ringing endorsement of the latter possibility. It can be summarized, fairly accurately, as “I am a bad writer. I am a sloppy thinker. I am also a bad writer. I do not understand anything at all, and my writing skills are also poor. But I’m getting paid by Tina Brown and so, conclusion… wait for it… Unions bad!”
I will miss the veneer of respectability The Atlantic lent you, Monsieur Sullivan.