November 22, 2009

The Odd Lies of Andrew Sullivan

I have been having a bit of fun exploring this "blogosphere" thingy. One gets a very interesting picture of Sully from reading what his fellow bloggers think of him and his pervy fascination with Me. Notable uterus-having individual Ann Althouse is not impressed with Sully's tiresome "9999 Lying Lies of That Dirty, Stinking Liar Sarah Palin" meme:
Calling something like this a lie marks you as someone who's centered not on finding out what is true, but on destroying someone. It doesn't motivate me to go through the rest of the long list systematically to see what each item is about, and it certainly doesn't make me want to look at the list and accept the conclusion that wow, Sarah Palin really is a terrible liar.
Tom Maguire, though regrettably not possessed of a uterus, fact checks another "lie":
Per Sully, Sarah Palin told the Republican National Convention that "we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence" even though actual construction had not begun on the pipeline.

Hmm, does a pipeline project begin with actual construction, or with the years of planning and approvals that precede construction? A toughie! (I know my wife thought we had begun our kitchen renovation before any workmen showed up, but three hundred meetings with architects affect some people that way. Liar!)

Exactly what qualifies as a "lie"? Rather than rely on Sully's self serving definition, I took the liberty of looking it up:
1 : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2 : to create a false or misleading impression

Let's think about that for a moment. We're talking about a man who IN ONE DAY (as another uterus-deprived individual notes) cranked out a truly frightening number of posts about Palin:
...since resuming “as normal” [Sully] .... racked up no fewer than 23 Palin posts...

Can you say "unhinged", boy and girls? I knew that you could. But since we're here, let's deconstruct one of Sully's "Ooooh!!!! Gotcha!" moments. In a post bizarrely titled, "Most Educated Alaskans Are Aware Of All This", Sully writes:
History professor and Alaskan David Noon corrects Palin for repeating the myth of "Seward's Folly" - the purchase of Alaska in 1867 by Secretary of State William Seward.

Seward's Folly is a myth? Really? Someone forgot to tell Thomas Nast:

Mast, arguably one of the most famous political cartoonists in American history, published the cartoon above in Harper's Weekly. Contrary to the inference we're intended to draw from the tiny excerpt Sully brandishes, The New York Tribune was far from the only major paper to ridicule the purchase. The picture becomes even clearer when this little tidbit is fact checked:
And at the end of the day, the treaty with Russia passed the US Senate by a vote of 37-2, with no significant expressions of opposition during the floor debate.

Let's return, for a moment, to the definition of a "lie":
2 : to create a false or misleading impression

Sully, while carefully refraining from actually calling Palin a liar here, clearly creates the false and misleading impression that she's either less than honest or laughably ignorant. He uses the same tactic for his idiotic "explorations" of Sarah's "bizarre 5th pregnancy" - he carefully avoids actually saying Trig is not her son while repeatedly quoting others who helpfully cast doubt on Trig's parentage for him. This way, he can "honestly" say he's only trying to "get at the truth"!

Interestingly, the Seward's Folly "myth" Sullivan lampoons Palin for passing on is on the US History AP exam (scroll down to item 147). And on the State Dept. website. It's on A search of Alaska's official state websites reveals numerous references. It's even in the Encyclopedia Britannica, which notes:
The House passed the necessary appropriation on July 14, 1868. Extensive propaganda campaigns and judicious use of bribes by Stoeckl secured the required votes in each house of Congress.

There sure are a lot of stupid, dishonest and ignorant folk in America! Though I wouldn't exactly call them lying liars. In his lame attempt to portray Palin's characterization of the Alaskan purchase as simplistic and inaccurate, Sullivan commits the very same error: blithely glossing over several inconvenient truths which undermine his chosen narrative. As one very detailed and balanced account shows, the truth is somewhat more complicated than Sully would have us believe:
Why, then, is the story repeated today that the Alaska purchase was unpopular? Well first of all, there is that grain of truth. Before people had a chance to become informed about the matter, it was superficially unpopular for a time. Then, even after the majority of intelligentsia of the country realized it was a good deal, some opposed it for a variety of reasons, some having to do with its non-contiguity, some for political reasons, some because they could not imagine far enough into the future to picture a non-native population ever settling there. And even though the overwhelming majority of informed leaders in the country approved the purchase, it was difficult for uninformed, ordinary citizens to imagine why the United States should spend money to acquire apiece of the Arctic.

The oddest thing of all about Sully's deceptive narrative is that Palin's modest claims with regard to the "Seward's Folly" moniker are both reasonable and well grounded in the historical record. She never claims the opposition was overwhelming - that straw man exists only in Sully's fevered imagination. She only claims he faced criticism and that the purchase was far from a slam dunk (hence the bribes):
Critics ridiculed Seward for spending so much on a remote chunk of earth that some thought of as just a frozen, inhospitable wilderness that was dark half the year.

Inconveniently for Sully, critics did ridicule Seward for the reasons Palin cites in her book. For Sullivan to imply otherwise is ... well, a rather odd lie:
The lies of Andrew Sullivan are different from any other bloggers'. They are different because they assert things that are demonstrably, empirically untrue; and they are different because once they have been demonstrated to the entire world that they are untrue, Sullivan keeps repeating them as if they still were true or refuses to acknowledge that he was wrong.

Oops. Someone pulled a little switcheroo there. But hey - if the shoe fits... Meanwhile:


So you tell me: what is more "dangerous"? A private citizen "lying" about matters of great national import that occurred in the 1800s (like whether the purchase of Alaska was ever called "Seward's Folly")? Or a sitting president who tells whoppers all the time about public policy matters that affect us right now? Who publicly claims to value and encourage dissent but profits from demonizing anyone who dares disagree with him? One who has a long history of trying to silence the opposition?

Who is the bigger (let alone more dangerous) liar?

Someone's suffering from a massive case of projection. And it this case, it ain't the person with the uterus. Come to think of it, maybe that's his problem.

Update: In Andrew's defense, despite his repeated attacks on Israel we can't definitively conclude that he's a mean old Joooooooooo hater although some people might infer as much. But we would not say that, because that would be dishonest. And we wouldn't want to smear anyone by throwing out poorly sourced (and therefore deniable) indirect accusations. You know, the way some bloggers do.


  1. Go fuck yourself.

  2. Ouch, "Anonymous". Compelling rebuttal :)

    I love the way you combine remorseless logic with a veritable tsunami of evidence. On balance I must declare myself duly refuted, if not entirely

  3. Perhaps the first Anonymous was going for irony? *shrug*

  4. Anonymous -- From whence do you summon such courage? Such overpowering logic?

    Now go home and get your f***ing shinebox.

  5. March 18, 1868
    NY Times
    The Opposition to the Alaska Appropriation
    "General (Senator) Wasburn renewed his objections asserting that the acquisition of the territory at this time would not prove beneficial to the best interests of the country... the discussion that followed was dicedly spicy and somewhat acriminuos"
    Sarah Palin - right again!

  6. My bet? Anonymous is his nibs, Mr Sullivan, himself. Be just like him. OCD can be treated

    Andy, you should think about going back on whatever SSRIs you were on before you gave them up a few years back. OK, I am just guess here too.

    tim in vermont

  7. Brooklyn Eagle
    January 30, 1880
    "The purchase of Alaska has often been called 'Mr. Seward's Folly'...this has been the opinion of a large number of persons."

    Sarah Palin - right again!

  8. Dear SPU,

    My wife became pregnant when we were in our mid-40s. It was our fifth child; we already had two boys and two girls, and we had thought we were done. Our oldest was a girl, who was in her late teens at the time.

    I know this story sounds familiar so far, and so is what follows: some of our evil-minded relatives assumed that our oldest daughter was "knocked up" and we were covering up for her. These things do happen in real life; I know, because I've been there.

    When I read about then-Governor Palin's situation, and her being attacked by that evil-minded lunatic Andrew Sullivan, my heart went out to her. When I see how gracefully she's handled herself, despite it all, my sympathy has grown into admiration. All the best to her!

  9. My uterus is not nearly as smart as you are. It's nice to meet you.

    The things being written about Palin by Sullivan and so many like him ... even serious journalists (which, sadly, Andy's never truly been) ... are really bizarre. Even more absurd than a blogging uterus, which, in comparison to their suppositions and truth-twisting, seems pretty darn normal.

    Keep up the good work, SPU.

    Mousie Marie

  10. No, seriously. Go FUCK YOURSELF

  11. I think "Anonymous" might be old "Milky Loads" himself.

  12. After five births in four pregnacies my wife had to have her uterus removed due to a serious problem "down there".

    Too bad, her uterus was almost as smart as you.

  13. Oh, my. You seem to have hit a nerve. My uterus doesn't get people riled up this way.

    Must mean you're doing something right.

    If it were my uterus, though, she'd keep track of the IPs of some of these very-silly commenters, so they can be banned later if they keep coming back here.

    It IS odd, though, how common it is for a few women who think they're done with kids, and assume The Change is well underway, to find out they are instead pregnant. (Unfortunately, that's led me to get my hopes up a few times when it was the other way around: oh, well. Books instead of babies it is!)

  14. Sully is very afraid of SPU. Personally I think he suffers from Uterus Envoy.

  15. It's hard for me to get too worked up over people whose idea of a crushing retort is "F-you".

    I will probably delete out the profanity if I [yawn] have a free moment, simply b/c it is a little annoying to have comments from such inarticulate folk on my site. Kind of like when the dog decides to disgrace himself on the floor.

    You don't really blame him because he's only a dog but on the other hand who wants to live with it?

  16. some of our evil-minded relatives assumed that our oldest daughter was "knocked up" and we were covering up for her. These things do happen in real life; I know, because I've been there.

    People are weird. Older women get pregnant all the time. Especially these days. It says a lot about our society that we get wrapped around the axle over things that are perfectly natural.

  17. Poor Sully – a head but no brain – guess he’s jealous.

  18. Well, you do not address the basic question raised by Andrew. Which woman in her right mind will fly thousands of miles just before delivering her child fully knowing that her water is broken, and the child has down's syndrome.

    this is the strangest behaviour indeed.

    that Sullivan does not question what you consider Obama's lies hardly matters in this context.

  19. are you sure sullivan doesn't have a uterus because he has PMS from time to time?

  20. Yes, you're right Anonymous. Because obviously anyone who, in consultation with their doctor, makes a personal decision you don't agree with is mentally unstable.

    *rolling eyes*

    When you're President, we'll just lock people like that up.

    Get a grip, will you? Trig seems to have survived, though obviously it would be a huge vindication for Andrew if things had turned out otherwise.


  21. Well, you do not address the basic question raised by Andrew.

    Ummm... possibly because he hasn't posted on that subject in the past few days!

    Nice try, but changing the subject from what he DID say in the linked post to asking me why I didn't address something Andrew DIDN'T say in the linked post isn't going to work. Do try to stay on topic, willya?

  22. In the final diagnosis, is it because he hates his mother?

  23. No, but because the Palinophiles do not have a brain.

  24. No. It is because under present immigration law, his HIV+ status prohibits him from becoming an American citizen, or a permanent resident. Sullivan himself has said that he must leave by March 2011, again under current law. He could blog from anywhere in the world, but:

    a) medical care for HIV+ victims outside the US isn't up the the standard he'd demand
    b) Sullivan was notroious for hollering against terrorists before somersaulting. The terrorists have long memories. Sullivan doesn't want to have to rely on British cops to keep safe.

    The only way Sullivan can continue to remain in this country is for Obama to allow him to reamin. This requires groveling and attacking Obama's enemies. That's why Sullivan blasts Palin day in and day out.

    There you have it. Sullivan is not insane. He knows exactly what he's doing. He's made a cold decision to attempt to destroy Palin, to curry favor with Obama, to stay in the US. He's responsible for his actions, and in THE ATLANTIC, he's found a platform that welcomes his extreme views for the traffic they bring.

    Will he succeed? I hope not. He's degraded public discourse appreciably. Being forced to leave the US would be poetic justice: it would hurt him psychically in the same way he's hoped to hurt Sarah Palin.

    Gregory Koster

  25. "He's made a cold decision to attempt to destroy Palin, to curry favor with Obama, to stay in the US."

    That is freakin' awesome. Obama gives a flying @#$^ what Sullivan thinks? NOW you're in a dream world.

  26. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of our country. How dare you try to influence Americans when your own country is in such peril... because of idiots like you.

  27. haha.

    blogger points out glaring inconistencies in the statements by the heroine of the wingnuttia.

    hillarity ensues.

    hillarity turns to attacks on the blogger.

  28. I don't think Koster's theory holds water, because if the American cops were the best at dealing with terrorists, Salmon Rushdie would spend more time in the U.S.

    We aren't the best; the British are the best, due to The Troubles.

    Furthermore, if Koster's theory were correct Sully wouldn't have been so critical of the Bush Administration.

  29. "That is freakin' awesome. Obama gives a flying @#$^ what Sullivan thinks? NOW you're in a dream world."

    Obama cared enough about what that moron blogger thinks to quote him on the subject of Churchill. It goes without saying he ended up looking like an idiot because of his poor choice in leftist nitwit bloggers.

  30. I'm going with the uterus-envy meme re: Sully.

    Perhaps we could chip in a few bucks and get him a fake one he can wear, like some men would wear those pads designed to make them feel pregnant. Faux is faux, right?

  31. Oh man. Now I am going to bed to have nightmares of Barack with a fake uterus strapped onto him :)

    Thanks a lot!!!

  32. Please uterus, tell us who Trig's mommy really is.

  33. Andrew's latest attack on Sarah goes beyond absurd.

    Sullivan really needs to chill out.