Blog Fights

Back by Popular Demand– Blog Fights

The Undercard: Sullivan vs. Instapundit

The background- Weeks of back and forth about torture and bad feelings go public.

Round 1: Sullivan:

And I think that all debate helps flush out the truth. Even if a majority decides to ignore the truth, in the end, it will count. Unlike Kerry, I also believe in fighting back against lies and smears. In fact, I’m delighted that the NRO-Reynolds chorus has finally decided, after months and months of pretending there was nothing to debate, that they have to deal with this question. The trouble is: their long months of denial and evasion have made them lazy and stunningly uninformed. Which is worth flushing out as well.

Instapundit:

And Andrew Sullivan — pursuant to his apparent brand differentiation strategy, I guess — is bravely standing up to the “NRO-Reynolds chorus,” whatever that means. I don’t think I really agree with Mark Levin, Rich Lowry, et al. on the specific subject at hand, though I confess that I haven’t followed that particular pissing match very closely. However, I do agree with them that Andrew has been consistently, pompously, and annoyingly moralistic and irritatingly unspecific. So if that’s the chorus, well yes — but it’s a song that has a lot of notes, most of them struck by Andrew himself. And I’m irritated with him, not for the reason you might think — because I disagree with Andrew — but more the contrary, because every time I read one of his preening posts, I find my opposition to torture weakening in response, even though I’ve been consistently in opposition to torture since 2001 (and before). God help me if he ever starts blogging in support of nanotechnology and bans on cloning — I’ll probably start looking at Leon Kass more sympathetically. It’s like listening to Robert Bork talk about original understanding jurisprudence.

Round 2:

Sullivan:

Instapundit finds me “consistently, pompously, and annoyingly moralistic and irritatingly unspecific” on the question of torture. I’m sorry about that. But I can promise him my position had nothing to do with “brand differentiation,” as he calls it. Believe it or not, opposing torture was and is a deep principle of mine, sincerely held, and I think the record shows I blog according to what I think, even if it loses me readers and alienates people who would otherwise be allies. I’m sorry that Glenn, over the last year and half, said he opposed torture but did nothing to help stop it. In fact, he did much to excuse and ignore it or look the other way, as well as denigrating or condescending to those of us who fought against it. He even argued that vocally opposing torture would only help legalize it, because most Americans were in favor. Mercifully, the American people, as represented in the Congress, have proven him wrong. He lacked faith in American decency. Some of us didn’t.

Instapundit:

ANDREW SULLIVAN says he never called being wrapped in the Israeli flag “torture.” But in this post he listed it under the heading of “Anti-Islamic Torture,” along with a variety of nasty behaviors with nothing to suggest it’s not of the same order. And see this post, too. He says he doesn’t think fake menstrual blood is torture, but he sure has paid a lot of attention to the subject in that context for someone who doesn’t.

Sullivan’s heart has been in the right place on the issue, most of the time, at least, but his head has been sorely absent. Nor do I understand why he’s thought it useful to pick at me regularly, as opposed to, say, the bloggers who actually support torture.

Perhaps he’ll improve. As others have noted, “Tomorrow is always another day at andrewsullivan.com.”

Who is winning? Dunno, although I am praying for more carnage.

I will update as it happens.

The Main Event: Me vs. A Bunch of People With Obsessions With PJ Media

The Background: Weeks of a select few individuals obsessing over PJ Media comes to a boiling point when I finally get sick and tired of the relentless bashing (and mostly pointless, although there has been some substantive criticism out there), and refer to two leaders of the bashing as the Axis of Asshole.

Round 1:

ME: In a post on the Iraqi elections, two commenters start up with the Open Sore crap again. I state:

You know- no more links to the Axis of Asshole, aka Althouse, Moxie, etc.

They are just bitter shrews who for some reason have a hard-on towards Roger and Charles. They are free to start their own competing businesses if they know so damned much.

And what makes me pissed off the most is that their commentary is so nasty and childish I feel compelled to defend PJ, even though I think they have made significant missteps.

BTW- I like how all the anti PJ crowd has banded together- presumably to maintain the ‘independence’ of blogging that Althouse is so deadset on protecting.

Think about it for a minute.

Moxie (In post #68675 on PJ):

Okay, so here I am trying to be fair and balanced just like Fox News. I tell it like it like it is (even if I am saying something not quite positive about fellow conservatives) and some guy John Cole has this to say:

“You know- no more links to the Axis of Asshole [sic], aka Althouse, Moxie, etc.

They are just bitter shrews who for some reason have a hard-on towards Roger and Charles. They are free to start their own competing businesses if they know so damned much.

And what makes me pissed off the most is that their commentary is so nasty and childish I feel compelled to defend PJ, even though I think they have made significant missteps.”

No idea who that guy is — he must have started blogging YEARS after I did. But “bitter shrew” is par for the course. I was asked many times to join the Pajama Game. I thought Pajamas Media was an awful idea and said as much.

I’m just darn glad these people don’t get emotional.

For the record, I offered to fix Pajamas Media for them and put a 1 million dollar price tag on it. Still no takers.

Dennis the Peasant (who by every account I have read, is about the only person with a right to be bitter):

More Pajamas Media Blogger Brilliance… … From John Cole of Balloon Juice.

Via Moxie, Cole represents Pajamas Media in a manner that is, well, kinda batshit crazy, insanely bitter, and somewhat deranged:

“You know- no more links to the Axis of Asshole [ sic ], aka Althouse, Moxie, etc.
They are just bitter shrews who for some reason have a hard-on [ ! – ed. ] towards Roger and Charles. They are free to start their own competing businesses if they know so damned much.

And what makes me pissed off the most is that their commentary is so nasty and childish I feel compelled to defend PJ, even though I think they have made significant missteps.”

Hum… that’s the Mother of all Mixed Metaphors, John.

But, irrespective of John’s difficulties with basic anatomy… all I can say at this moment is “CONTEST TIME” !!!

Would any of my creative and artistically inclined readers care to design an “Axis of the Assholes” logo I could distribute to people such as Moxie, Ann Althouse, Steven Den Beste, Steve H. and others?

Dan Riehl:

A Fight PJM Doesn’t Want

And they should be careful about making it appear sexist, as well.

“You know- no more links to the Axis of Asshole [sic], aka Althouse, Moxie, etc.

Hog On Ice:

Is it just me, or is John Cole going off the ad hominem deep end?

I pick on the founders of Pajamas Media, true enough, and I love making up names for PJM, like “Rather’s Revenge,” “Pajoompa Loompas,” “Pajamas Mediocrity,” “Mighty Morphin’ Pajama Rangers,” and “Pajamikazes,” but I don’t think you can find an example of me firing off ad hominems at the PJM member bloggers. Saying someone has backed the wrong horse isn’t an ad hominem. Saying they showed a lack of insight by buying into the PJM plan isn’t an ad hominem.

But “Axis of Asshole”? “Bitter shrews”? Those are his terms for Moxie and Ann Althouse.

Dainty souls, those fierce, independent critics. And for the love of everything that is good, will someone please explain to people the difference between a straight up insult and an insult being used as an argument ad hominem?

I doubt there will be a round two, as I have learned that if you ‘sold out to the man’ and ‘sent your independence packing,’ you are supposed to just sit there and take the cat calls from the independent souls who have banded together to offer ‘constructive criticism,’ but I will update as more PJ bashers rush to the self-promotion fest. Easy traffic, being a victim.

Who wins? You choose. I see no clear winners (although that may be because they are not utilizing their full verbal powers), although I do have a newfound appreciation for right-wingers who are willing to play the sexism card, straight from the leftist handbook, when it is to their advantage. By the end of the week, I suspect one of the aggrieved will have changed their name to Anita Hill.

Although if anything, it should be clear I have kept my ‘blogger independence’ and blogging is still ‘Free!’

And do I own the Axis of Asshole TM, or do I have to file for that? (There is now a logo!)

*** Update ***

More logo possibilities here (Although that TO bit is just below the belt). Now these folks can turn their cottage industry of kvetching about every aspect of PJ into a cottage industry of promoting themselves as assholes. Works for me. Poor independent souls- so picked on.






40 replies
  1. 1
    yet another jeff says:

    Well, you probably don’t have to file for the TM, as your post is time stamped.

    Friday night blog fights…shouldn’t we all be out somewhere smoking or second hand smoking?

  2. 2
    Geek, Esq. says:

    You lose some points for getting into a stupid blogospheric navelgazing/pissing contest.

    You earn a lot of points for coining the term Axis of Asshole.

    However, you lose infinite points for using “hard on” in the same sentence in which you refer to Charles Johnson and Roger L. Simon.

  3. 3
    Allah says:

    I doubt there will be a round two, as I have learned that if you ‘sold out to the man’ and ‘sent your independence packing,’ you are supposed to just sit there and take the cat calls from the independent souls who have banded together to offer ‘constructive criticism,’ but I will update as more PJ bashers rush to the self-promotion fest. Easy traffic, being a victim.

    Exactly right. So why give baby its bottle by posting about it in the first place?

  4. 4
    Vlad says:

    Instapundit tries to duck and weave, but Sully relentlessly closes and wins on a TKO in the sixth.

    You were winning on points for the AoA thing, but got DQed when the judges remembered that Pajamas Media, as currently operated, does in fact suck.

  5. 5
    Perry Como says:

    Vlad Says:

    Instapundit tries to duck and weave

    Isn’t that the normal M.O.? I love the irony in “and irritatingly unspecific” from Instapundit. Give a point to Mr. Sullivan.

  6. 6
    Dan says:

    As regards my take on PJM, questioning what is done at the PJM site has nothing to do with any individual blogger selling out. And I have never so much as suggested you have.

  7. 7
    Reid says:

    In the beginning, there were blogs.

    And they began to consume things (i.e., absorb them, and regurgitate as critique and judgement). Newspapers, cable channels, news magazines, with a side serving of contemporary culture. And every now and then when things got slow, they even consumed each other (see the first part of John’s post).

    Bloggers proved they could criticize a Virgin Birth for a lack of diversity and flimsy documentation.

    And then along comes a VC funded enterprise … of bloggers. It gets hyped to Hades and back, and then falls considerably short of the hype. And, it, too, becomes a part of the food chain. It is consumed, judged, critiqued. When it missteps continually, the criticism continues and grows. They become the latest bone to chew.

    And some, like John, seem surprised. So much so that the vanguard of this barrage gets a neat new acronym … AoA.

    I understand all of the above. Except that last paragraph.

    But I wouldn’t expect any of it to stop anytime soon.

  8. 8
    John Cole says:

    Dan- You may not have, but that is frequently bandied about as one of the ‘legitimate criticisms’ of PJ.

    Regardless, I would not take this post too seriously.

    You were winning on points for the AoA thing, but got DQed when the judges remembered that Pajamas Media, as currently operated, does in fact suck.

    Heh.

    However, you lose infinite points for using “hard on” in the same sentence in which you refer to Charles Johnson and Roger L. Simon.

    Hunh?

  9. 9
    Gary Farber says:

    “The Main Event: Me vs. A Bunch of People With Obsessions With PJ Media”

    For perspective, the last time I read a post about PJ was when you wrote it. So I’m pretty clear who is obsessed. I can’t imagine why anyone would give a damn about the topic if they weren’t so obsessed. What could be more boring than some bloody old website some folks do, somewhere, that one doesn’t read or read about? I can only barely imagine what you’re even talking about about it. Who could care?

    The thing about Glenn vs. Andrew is sad. For Glenn. He could have spoken up against, say, having his wife potentially picked up and waterboarded (why not? is there a constitutional issue involved?; is it worth discussing?; clearly not), but he didn’t care enough. That’s what to care about. The fake stuff about non-torture issues is just weird. What drugs are those people on, and can I get some? Waterboarding is torture. So is using a sledgehammer on people. So is suffocating them to death. Anything else they bring up is a distraction, and an attempt to distract from our torturing people. Basically, these people are standing up for the Gestapo. That’s pretty awful. Looking away from what’s been done is no less awful, but it’s equally morally disgusting. And also as sickening as it would be to watch what’s been done while they very publically refuse to acknowledge it.

    But these folks think pulling out nails is fine, so long as it is done to the Right People (which no court will be allowed to check on). What a fricking horror. (General test: what would you want a court to allow to do to your wife/husband, or daughter/son? Hint: if you’d object, it’s probably wrong. This also goes for dark skinned people, or those of another religion than yours. It’s that freaking simple. And if you weren’t speaking up in 2001, you weren’t speaking up. [John Cole, to be sure, did, and bless him for having humanity.])

  10. 10
    Gary Farber says:

    And, wow, it turns out there was a whole lot of MEGO stuff after the stuff in the post I read and reacted to.

    John, you may care about “Pajamas Media,” but some of us care less than you care what color my own pajamas are right now. Give. It. Up. It’s completely boring to those of us not obssessed with whatever it is about it. Really. Someone said something unpleasant about a website, apparently. Film at 11, or something equally fascinating. Who gives a fuck? (Wait, you’re being paid; but that doesn’t change your view, or make you obsessed in a way different than you’re obsessed with any number of websites you’re not paid by. Or something like that. Jeez, when was your last post about Britannica.com, or philly.com, or some other site you’re not freaking obsessing over? Hey, maybe it’s because you’re not obsessing over them?)

    Of course, it may only be me who doesn’t give a fart what anyone thinks about “PJ,” and can’t imagine why anyone who wasn’t taking money would care. It’s possible.

    But if you didn’t care, you’d stop obsessively talking about it. (Compare number of posts you’ve made about “PJ” to, oh, okay, mine. It’s not a subject that affects the world; it matters only to people obsessed with the topic, or who are taking money, which, hmm, clearly changes their opinion, or they wouldn’t freaking go on about it, any more than they’d go on about the complaints about the Altoona Times, if they weren’t the editor, you know, of the Altoona Times. But, damn, what a fucking boring topic to rant about; at least get back to damning leftists, or something someone cares about, why don’t you? Oh, yeah, apparently you’re obsessed because of being paid off. Or something. I’d rather hear about the Altoona Times, though, myself.)

  11. 11
    Perry Como says:

    Basically, these people are standing up for the Gestapo.

    Great. Now you are comparing our troops to Nazis. Thanks for Godwinning the discussion. Despite the devolution, it’s already been declared — and reaffirmed by the McCain amendment — that we don’t torture.

    As to the “Main Event”, cheers Mr. Cole.

  12. 12
    aop says:

    I don’t really care about any of this, but you’re right about the ad hominem thing. It and “straw man” are probably the two most over/misused sound-smartisms in the blogging lexicon.

  13. 13
    Dave Ruddell says:

    Can someone point me in the direction of a summary of why Dennis the Peasent has such a (legimate) grudge against PJM? Or perhaps just summarize it in the comments if it can be done briefly?

  14. 14
    Pooh says:

    Essentially he was in at the beginning with Roger, came up with a lot of the ideas, and then got dumped/not invited. (And then got dismissed as a crazy person) There’s more to it then that, but that’s the bare bones.

  15. 15
    MM says:

    Essentially he was in at the beginning with Roger, came up with a lot of the ideas, and then got dumped/not invited. (And then got dismissed as a crazy person) There’s more to it then that, but that’s the bare bones.

    That’s a pretty good gist. Go to Dennis’ blog and read everything under the Ragging on Roger Simon category to get his side. The other side from Roger seems to be “words hurt”, so it’s tough to get a real balanced view here.

    It is pretty damn funny to see Glenn Reynolds (the McNews of the Blogosphere), who has made a blogliving off of being vague and smug to call Sullivan to the mat when AS has been pretty explicit and consistent from day one as far as torture goes, while Glenn hides behind qualifiers and “indeeds”.

  16. 16
    Pooh says:

    Sullivan won the fight for me with one word…heh.

    John, been meaning to mention – “Axis of Asshole” = Best. Band Name. Ever.

  17. 17
    Jane Finch says:

    Sullivan scores a TKO….Reynolds et al are the relativists in this argument, and it reflects badly on them.

  18. 18
    Pb says:

    Obviously Sully has been winning this argument from the beginning–and Reynolds is still a hack.

  19. 19
    salvage says:

    Goddamnit I wish I had noticed this whole thing earlier, I would have loved to make the AofA logo.

  20. 20
    Shygetz says:

    And for the love of everything that is good, will someone please explain to people the difference between a straight up insult and an insult being used as an argument ad hominem?

    Finally, someone who gets it!

    Sometime an asshole is just an asshole…

  21. 21
    Geek, Esq. says:

    They are just bitter shrews who for some reason have a hard-on towards Roger and Charles.

    This is the comment that cost you points, JC.

    I mean, barf barf barf.

  22. 22

    I’m normally not one to defend the Instapundit’s right to accuse someone else of being “irritatingly unspecific”, but I simply cannot understand why Sullivan would pick Reynolds of all people to attack on this particular issue. It’s obvious that this spastic outlashing stems from a deeper disagreement between the two individuals over the war in general.

    WRT Pajamas Media, I don’t know what to make of the situation, and I don’t care all that much. Apparently, Simon and Johnson has stepped on a few toes while building their “blog empire”, and folks have decided to air that dirty laundry. Whatever.

  23. 23
    Steve S says:

    It was more fun when they were still calling themselves Open Sores media.

  24. 24
    Steve S says:

    At least we know why Reynolds is a Professor and not an actual practicing attorney.

    If he made his illogical arguments in court, the Judge would have him removed to the mental asylum.

  25. 25
    James C. says:

    Andrew Sullivan is one of those individuals for whom both the Left and the Right can agree is, as the writer D. Ehrenstein once put it, “…a useless, diseased asshole.” Just a short year ago, Sully’s blog ranked in the top 10 among most visited web blogs; according to the most recent tally by The Truth Laid Bear monitoring site, Sully is now barely in the top 30 as he continues to piss off an ever wider group of his readers.

    Michael Wolff, columnist for Vanity Fair has written of Andrew Sullivan on a couple occasions, as for example when he was describing Sullivan’s tenure as editor of The New Republic magazine: “…he is a ghastly manager — the magazine is riven by internecine warfare….[and]…he is forced out of the New Republic job in 1996…” Martin Peretz, principal owner of the magazine at the time has characterized Sullivan as “…incapable of managing a one-employee candy store.” His blog writing has often displayed how at sea he often is without the benefit of a strong editor looking over his shoulder; he seldom corrects his most egregious errors/falsehoods, and when he does, he does so in a manner that even Paul Krugman would admire for its obfuscating quality.

    Re Sully’s recent announcement that come January his blog will be under the rubric of Time magazine, it will be interesting to see how this will work out; it seems probable that this is a marriage that’s bound to end badly given the prickly and fickle Sullivan’s inability to hew to any discernible week-to-week train of thought.

  26. 26
    Kimmitt says:

    Sully v. Instapundit . . . man, talk about rooting for injuries.

  27. 27
    Mona says:

    ’m normally not one to defend the Instapundit’s right to accuse someone else of being “irritatingly unspecific”, but I simply cannot understand why Sullivan would pick Reynolds of all people to attack on this particular issue. It’s obvious that this spastic outlashing stems from a deeper disagreement between the two individuals over the war in general.

    Amen. Glenn Reynolds is not in favor of torture, and has repeatedly distanced himself from those who actually are. Why Sullivan does not limit himself to attacking, say, the Cornerites who are trying to define heinous practices as outside the definition of torture, and defending these methods, beats me. Unless Sullivan simply is in the throes of an ongoing snit w/ Reynolds for reasons wholly unrelated to the torture debate.

    And I like the Axis of Assholes thingie.

  28. 28
    Steve S says:

    Glenn Reynolds is not in favor of torture, and has repeatedly distanced himself from those who actually are.

    If you look up the definition of ‘Finger in the Air Blogger’, there is a picture of Glenn Reynolds.

    I don’t think we know what he actually stands for, because he won’t say.

  29. 29
    Pooh says:

    I’m normally not one to defend the Instapundit’s right to accuse someone else of being “irritatingly unspecific”, but I simply cannot understand why Sullivan would pick Reynolds of all people to attack on this particular issue. It’s obvious that this spastic outlashing stems from a deeper disagreement between the two individuals over the war in general.

    In the interests of getting the facts straight, it started as a tiff between Sullivan and Mark Levin at NRO – (Where, IMO Levin proved himself to be an idiot with his increasingly ostrich-like repetition of ‘we do not torture’, refusing to even read Sullivan’s evidence which included DoD materials.) For some reason, Insta came out swinging in favor of Levin. Handbags at ten paces ensued.

  30. 30
    kl says:

    One guy wins and the other guy loses… because I say so in the comments of yet another guy’s blog!

  31. 31
    Maggie45 says:

    I stopped going to Althouse’s site a couple of days after Thanksgiving, when she made a complete fool out of herself over a post of Jeff Goldstein’s. Then she went to Baldilock’s site, trying to get her to say Jeff was wrong. Juliette gave her what for, in a very polite, but firm way. I have absolutely no interest in anything Althouse has to say after that.

  32. 32
    John Cole says:

    Re: Dennis The Peasant

    I don’t know what really happened between him and Roger and Charles, but those accounts above are short versions (basically) what Dennis has said. How much of that is accurate and true, I don’t know or care, but if that is how Dennis feels, I can understand why he is all hot and bothered about PJ. That is what I meant by he at least has a legitimate right to have his knickers in a twist.

    The rest of them- feh.

  33. 33

    In the interests of getting the facts straight, it started as a tiff between Sullivan and Mark Levin at NRO – (Where, IMO Levin proved himself to be an idiot with his increasingly ostrich-like repetition of ‘we do not torture’, refusing to even read Sullivan’s evidence which included DoD materials.) For some reason, Insta came out swinging in favor of Levin.

    Ah, I must have missed that. From what I’ve seen, Reynolds comes off as consistantly anti-torture, albeit not exactly expressing his viewpoint with a lot of passion (which is true of just about any viewpoint of his).

    Handbags at ten paces ensued.

    Heh.

  34. 34
    vinc says:

    Sullivan and Reynolds have sparred over this several times. I think the root causes of this are when Sullivan began harshly criticising the war’s conduct after Abu Ghraib, and Reynolds linked approvingly (“heh”) to various things calling Sullivan things like “overly excitable”.

  35. 35
    Pooh says:

    Vinc, yup. This latest round was a by-product of Levin v. Sullivan. And then “w-wait, that’s GLENN REYNOLDS’ Music!”

    It’s not mutually exclusive for Sullivan to be overly excitable and Glenn to be lukewarm on the subject. In fact, that’s a reasonable description of both their positions on pretty much anything.

  36. 36
    vinc says:

    Agreed, Pooh. But I think the problem isn’t that Sullivan is passionate about this and Reynolds is lukewarm. The problem was that Reynolds wanted Sullivan to be lukewarm too. Reynolds spent a lot more time criticizing people for making a big deal out of torture than he did on actually making the case against torture. Which Sullivan, naturally, objected to, since he was leading the charge here.

  37. 37
    Pooh says:

    Wait, if you don’t disagree with me, how can we make battle with words?

  38. 38

    […] I can’t help but thinking about Jay’s farewell post when I write this, although the irony of me, a self-styled loudmouth, pointing this out, does not escape me. […]

  39. 39
    bago says:

    Glen owned himself.

    Round 1:

    Andrew has been consistently, pompously, and annoyingly moralistic and irritatingly unspecific.

    Round 2:

    ANDREW SULLIVAN says he never called being wrapped in the Israeli flag “torture.” But in this post he listed it under the heading of “Anti-Islamic Torture,” along with a variety of nasty behaviors with nothing to suggest it’s not of the same order.

    So unspecific he links to TWO posts being highly specific about torture.

  40. 40
    og says:

    hey, I can’t speak for anyone else, but for my part, it’s just good natured fun-poking. I love y’all’s blogs.

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