Take that! Please!

Take that! Please!
: Atrios responds well to Sullivan.

I’m disappointed that this is turning into a talk-radio decibel derby. It’s unbecoming and unproductive. Who’s to blame? Well, Andrew did throw the first punch last night. But as I read comments on my site on my Treo from the studio, I saw mention of insults thrown at me (and, I assumed, other show guests) over on Atrios’ comments.

And today, I hit my fill with inane, childish, immature, offensive, stupid, braind-dead, numbnuts (enough?) name-calling and insults going on among a few people without lives on my comments. You know it’s getting bad when it turns into a game of insult poker: I’ll see your homophobe and raise you and anti-semite!

Enough!

This is precisely what gives the Internet its bad reputation as a neglected schoolyard, populated by childish, churlish, ignorant little street urchins.

Discussion and argument and challenges over issues and ideas is welcome here and should be welcome on all weblogs.

But bitchslaps — as good as they might feel at the moment — should be the subject of regret.

This is our neighborhood. Let’s clean up the graffiti.

  • Angus Jung

    Well, I did get called a homophobe, but I just shrugged it off. If name-calling is all somebody’s got, why make them feel even worse about themselves?

  • Hipocrite

    Sullivan Challenges Atrios with a “Let’s see a few recent examples of his taking on the left or defying pure partisanship.”
    Atrios responds with the following, reformatted into a list:
    I’ve criticized Daschle for selling out for farm interests.
    I’ve criticized Clinton, Kerry, Lieberman, ands Edwards for their Iraq war votes.
    I’ve criticized Russ Feingold for voting to confirm John Ashcroft.
    I’ve criticized Dennis Kucinich for his abortion flipflop.
    I’ve criticized all of the major Democratic candidates for various things they’ve done in the campaign.
    I’ve criticized the Dems for passing that Medicare nonsense.
    I’ve criticized Fritz Holling for being behind stupid digital copyright-related stuff.
    I called for Jim Moran to resign from his leadership position after his anti-Semitic comments.
    I said that their little

  • Angus Jung

    You left out Sullivan’s preceding sentence: “In his long posting about how he does too occasionally criticize the left, he cites not a single actual link to anything he has ever written.” Not that Atrios should feel obliged to jump through Sullivan’s hoops anymore than he already has, but that’s the context.

  • http://www.doctorweevil.org Dr. Weevil

    When you’re accused of being a kneejerk leftist, it really doesn’t help to list the times you’ve criticized Democrats for voting with Republicans (e.g. the 2nd, 3rd, and last items on the list). That kind of thing just reinforces the charge. Yes, it’s criticizing the left, but it’s criticizing them for being insufficiently left. I don’t think that’s what Sullivan meant.
    Nor does it help to criticize the left for doing things both sides may be occasionally prone to, like making anti-semitic remarks.
    The question remains: Is there any issue whatsoever on which Atrios thinks the left is for the most part wrong and the right is for the most part right?

  • http://www.smythesworld.blogspot.com Steve Smith

    In all fairness, Sullivan was criticizing Atrios last night for not going hard on “his side”, meaning Democrats, not “the left” (ie., Nader, Cockburn, Chomsky, etc.). In the context of the debate last night, it wouldn’t have made sense for Sullivan to have done otherwise, since his preceding comments were about how he had attacked Bush and the GOP on certain issues.

  • Jeff B.

    Yeah, Angus has most of the point. Hipocrite, you practice a vice aligned to your namesake one when you intentionally omit the context of Sullivan’s phrase, which was a request for linkage.
    As it is, it’s one of those silly catfights. Atrios is wrong on the merits THUS FAR – sure, he can muster a list of critiques that he might *theoretically* have made in his head against Democrats, but as of yet has not been able to cite a single shred piece of evidence that he actually did so on his blog at the time – but it’s a silly fight.
    The essence of Sullivan’s point is absolutely correct: Atrios is clearly far more blindly partisan to the Democratic Party and the Left in general than Sullivan is to the Republicans and the right. Whether or not he holds personal criticisms of ‘his team’ (and he clearly identifies himself as a member of a team), he’s absolutely loathe to express them in public. “No Enemies On The Left.”
    But that doesn’t make Sullivan any less partisan than Atrios, unless we’re only looking strictly at the linguistic meaning of “partisan” as relating only to “parties.” Sullivan has his causes which cause him just as much blindness as Atrios’ knee-jerk (in his blog persona, at least) defense of all things Democratic. Have you ever noticed how a pro-gay stance is enough to make him overlook any number of flaws in a politician?
    Atrios is wrong and Sullivan is right on this particular point. But it’s a dumb argument because it proves relatively little in the way of merit or value.

  • Jeff B.

    Looking back at my previous post
    a.) The preview button is my friend.
    b.) Too many adverbs. Way too many adverbs.

  • Anonymous

    Good post and good comments here.
    “Clean up the graffiti”–hear, hear!

  • http://www.thelemon.net Shamus

    I love this site. I love this site because it can challenge my ideas without the insults and childish middle-finger waving nonsense.
    Atrios strikes me as being very much a Rush Limbaugh sort of figure: Full of staunch, fire-breathing, rabid red meat. That sort of thing has its own audience: the faithful, and those who love to fight with them.
    That sort of thing is useless for engaging in any sort of useful debate. Nobody is going to be converted to the opposing position because someone in the comments tells them they’re stupid.
    This site has challenged me and even convinced me to change my position on some issues. This is a great site for exchanging ideas. The flamers in these comments might do well to look at what Jeff writes, compare it to what Atrios et al write, and ask themselves what they really hope to accomplish when they hit that seductive POST button.

  • Hipocrite

    Weevil – the accusation is not that he’s a leftist – he *IS* a leftist (so am I.) Sullivan wrote, and I quote, “Let’s see a few recent examples of his taking on the left or defying pure partisanship.”
    If this game of Calvinball is “Show me you don’t believe what you believe or you lose,” then Atrios showing where he disagreed with the party from the left is perfectly fair at showing “a few recent examples of … defying pure partisanship.”
    If you want Atrios to show that he believes the Right is right, you’re going to lose, because he dosen’t believe the Right is right. It would be like asking Andy to show one time, just one, when he showed that he believed homosexuality was a sin.
    Jeff – every single one of the list of statements Atrios attributes to himself are in his archives. You’ve got google. Find them. Sullivan asked for cites, now he wants links, next he’ll want video recordings and hard archives. Initial condition fufilled, Calvinball game over.
    Jeff – that Atrios is more mainstream leftist than Sullivan is mainstream Rightist is not in doubt. The question was not “I’m better than you,” but rather “you never do X.” Atrios does, in fact, “do X.” Sullivan lied.
    That you all want Atrios to keep playing Calvinball with Sullivan is a joke. Own up to his blatent lie, already. He got caught.

  • Anonymous

    Second paragraph, first word should be “unless.”

  • Angus Jung

    “Sullivan asked for cites, now he wants links, next he’ll want video recordings and hard archives.”
    True. But the charge that he can’t count to three is without basis.

  • http://www.doctorweevil.org Dr. Weevil

    If Atrios believes that the Right is simply wrong on every single one of the hundreds of political issues on which it is possible to have an opinion and the two sides tend to have different ones, then he’s nothing but a kneejerk party hack. If that’s what you’re saying, you’re admitting that Sullivan was right.
    The challenge is not “Show me you don’t believe what you believe or you lose”, as you put it. It’s “Show me you haven’t already decided always to support the lefter of any two positions, before you know what the question is and the evidence and arguments on each side of it”.

  • Doctor Slack

    But the charge that he can’t count to three is without basis.
    Of course, so is the charge that anyone charged he couldn’t. But never mind.
    I looked over at Atrios and I couldn’t find any of the insults directed at Buzzmachine that Jeff mentions in his post. Which thread did they appear on, just out of curiosity?

  • Hipocrite

    There are not even a hundred major disputed political positions. There are more like twenty. Agreeing with the left on each and every single one of them makes one a mainstream leftist. Once you have Abortion and War in Iraq out of the way, there is a substantial coorelation between all the others. Believing the party line on everything is not even surprising, let alone dishonest.
    Your most recent Calvinball goalposts require that I prove a negative. It is, of course, impossible to prove a negative, and even more impossible to prove a negative in the future.
    For instance, on the matter of the Pan Galactic Gargleblaster composition (I am unsure if 3 or 4 cubes of Mantovin Mega-Gin is appropriate), I remain undecided. As such, I may very well hold a right-wing position in approximatly three thousand years, give or take two thousand nine hundred and ninty nine.
    I can think of nothing – nothing that I agree with the right about.

  • Hipocrite

    Oh, by the way, I realized that I can rise to your current challenge, when modified not to be a future unawnserable:
    Also, given that Atrios holds Nader in distaste,
    it is reasonably clear that he does not “always support the lefter of any two positions,” which, in this case would be “Gore or Nader” (Gore).

  • Doctor Slack

    The challenge is not “Show me you don’t believe what you believe or you lose”, as you put it. It’s “Show me you haven’t already decided always to support the lefter of any two positions, before you know what the question is and the evidence and arguments on each side of it”.
    Dr. Weevil, show me you haven’t already decided always to support the righter of any two positions, before you know what the question is and the evidence and arguments on each side of it.
    Do you feel obligated to answer that question? Why or why not?

  • Angus Jung

    “Of course, so is the charge that anyone charged he couldn’t.”
    Hipocrite wrote:
    “Apparently the list above didn’t contain three entries.”
    If he meant something other than “Sullivan can’t even count to three,” my mistake. But never mind. ;)
    “I looked over at Atrios and I couldn’t find any of the insults directed at Buzzmachine that Jeff mentions in his post. Which thread did they appear on, just out of curiosity?”
    The big 500+ thread. I’m not sure it’s worth scrolling through all of it to find the slams on Jeff, but it looks like there was a real-time running commentary as Jeff (and everybody else they didn’t like) spoke. Kind of funny, in a way.

  • Angus Jung

    Hmm, looking at it again, the counter for that thread (the “Radio Tonight” post) is reset to 0. Maybe it rolled over after it hit 999? Here’s a direct link.

  • Hipocrite

    There’s no doubt that Jeff was rightly or wrongly snarked by many on the Atrios comment thread.
    The offensive comments, however, came from a far-right-left-right-left-nutter troll freakishness called Anon that I wish Atrios (and I expect Atrios wishes he could) would ban named Anon. Of course, Anon being a freaky wierdo means that Jung spouting homophobic comments means that I have “no life.”

  • Angus Jung

    “Of course, Anon being a freaky wierdo means that Jung spouting homophobic comments means that I have ‘no life.’”
    I’m not sure which “homophobic” comments you mean, but then, that’s hardly the biggest problem with this sentence.

  • Doctor Slack

    If he meant something other than “Sullivan can’t even count to three,” my mistake.
    Yeah, probably more like “Sullivan is being dishonest,” which was already obvious.
    The big 500+ thread.
    Okay, I see it. Don’t know if Hip is right about Anon’s “troll freakishness-ness” or not (I’m not an Atrios reg), those comments looked pretty typical off-the-cuff flaming fare. Not that it’s cool for flaming to be typical, though…

  • http://www.doctorweevil.org Dr. Weevil

    Doctor Slack asks:
    “Dr. Weevil, show me you haven’t already decided always to support the righter of any two positions, before you know what the question is and the evidence and arguments on each side of it.
    “Do you feel obligated to answer that question? Why or why not?”
    I don’t know whether I’m obligated or not, but I’m certainly willing. Why shouldn’t I be? Talk about a fat fastball right over the middle of the plate! Just in the last week Bush proposed spending $1,500,000,000 (I think it was) encouraging marriage. I haven’t blogged about it — not much time lately for blogging on any subject — but I certainly agree with the dozen or so bloggers on my blogroll that have expressed an opinion on this that it’s an idiotic waste of the taxpayers’ money and Bush ought to be ashamed to have proposed it.
    I could multiply examples, but the right side of the spectrum is more diverse than the left to start with — mostly a matter of libertarians vs. traditionalists, of course. My blogroll has a strong rightward slant, but people on it disagree vehemently about abortion, gay marriage, drug legalization, immigration, and even war on Iraq. On the last, some of those who think we shouldn’t have done it think we should have concentrated on Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, while others think we should have done something about Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, or even Syria instead. The diversity of right-of-center opinion makes it hard to find clear examples where I agree that the left is right and both halves of the right are wrong. But I certainly think that Bush has made serious mistakes on a lot of matters (steel tariffs, ballooning domestic spending, not expanding the armed forces, delaying war on Iraq for 6 months to get the UN partly on board), and I don’t always agree with the libertarians against the traditionalists, or vice versa. If you’re looking for a kneejerk partisan, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

  • Angus Jung

    “Yeah, probably more like ‘Sullivan is being dishonest,’ which was already obvious.”
    Don’t take this the wrong way, but you seem a little grouchy. Anyway, yeah, Sullivan is a jerk, but there’s plenty of evidence for that already without taking his statements out of context. That’s all I was saying. No big deal.

  • GCW

    Accusation 1–Sullivan claimed Atrios never criticized the left the way he (Sullivan) criticizes the right; ie, that Atrios never feels anyone on the left “goes too far.” Impossible to prove “never,” but a potentially true claim.
    Accusation 2–Atrios claims Sullivan is a liar. In support of this claim, he mentions articles (but doesn’t provide links) of times he says he criticized the left.
    To those of us observing this debate, the links themselves would be helpful (and are to be expected in the blogging world). If every time Atrios criticized the Left, it was to say that a certain person or position wasn’t “Left enough,” then I think Sullivan’s point is substantiated. On the other hand, if he does show examples of recognizing “overly Left” positions, then he shows Sullivan to be wrong, if not lying.
    Atrios should be able to provide evidence from his own body of work (even one example refutes “never”) with links.

  • Hipocrite

    You got Accusation 1 wrong.
    Let’s see a few recent examples of his taking on the left or defying pure partisanship.
    Again, this game of Calvinball is not “Show me you believe what you don’t believe,” (Atrios loses) or even “I’m less of a mainstream rightist then you’re a mainstream leftist.” (Atrios, as a mainstream leftist, loses to a Log Cabin Republican, no surprise). The game of Calvinball today is “Show me that you are not merely a partisan.”
    Atrios wins. Even if his criticizms of the left are “you’re not left enough,” they are still him “defying pure partisanship.”

  • Tom K

    Hipocrite said:
    “I can think of nothing – nothing that I agree with the right about.”
    Which is why anything you – or Atrios – might happen to say is of absolutely no interest to me, or many other not-too-far-from-the-center type folks. Not that you post to please me, of course, but if you’re trying to change minds, get people to think, or otherwise compete in the marketplace of ideas, you’re not succeeding. Being so predictably on one side suggests something of a closed mind, IMHO.

  • http://www.doctorweevil.org Dr. Weevil

    Let’s see if have this right. Atrios and Hipocrite assume that the right is always wrong, and that the only arguments worth pursuing come when those on the left disagree among themselves, and we’re supposed to agree that that is somehow not “pure partisanship”? A priori rejection of one whole side of the spectrum sounds like a textbook example of partisanship and political bigotry to me.

  • Hipocrite

    Irony of Ironies, Dr. Weevil takes a brilliant oppourtunity to critizie Bush from the left and still manages to go to the right.
    The act:
    Bush proposed spending $1,500,000,000 encouraging marriage.
    From the right:
    $1.5 BILLION DOLLARS! TRAVESTY! MY MONEY!
    From the left:
    ENCOURAGING TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE! TRAVESTY! MY BEDROOM!
    Weevil:
    I haven’t blogged about … this that it’s an idiotic waste of the taxpayers’ money.
    PS – Weevil – there’s a diversity of left wing opinion also. The ACLU and the NAACP disagree about a lot of things. The DLC and the Greens disagree about even more. Do you know what these disagreements are about, or do you think the Left is one monoloithic entity?

  • Doctor Slack

    Just in the last week Bush proposed spending $1,500,000,000 (I think it was) encouraging marriage. . . [snip] it’s an idiotic waste of the taxpayers’ money and Bush ought to be ashamed to have proposed it.
    Ah, but surely you’re just criticizing him for not being “right” enough, now aren’t you? I mean, just by proposing that kind of spending measure, Bush is saying that morality can be bought! That’s leftist utopian social engineering, isn’t it?
    I’m joking. But maybe you’ll see what it is I’m getting at.
    but the right side of the spectrum is more diverse than the left to start with
    Statements like this reveal serious ignorance about “the left,” however it’s defined. If you can look at a political spectrum that includes both Eric Alterman and Noam Chomsky and fail to notice that it’s “diverse,” I have to suspect you’ve just been reading too much Horowitz.

  • http://www.doctorweevil.org Dr. Weevil

    Gee, I said I thought the right was “more diverse” than the left, and Hipocrite tells me the left is also diverse, as if I didn’t know that. What do you think “more” implies?
    And why do you assume that I oppose spending money to encourage marriage only because it’s “my money”? I suppose I should have spelled out that I have grave doubts that it’s the government’s business whether I marry or not — I haven’t, and I certainly don’t want to have to explain that to some bureaucrat –, and even graver doubts that it would actually work. I hope even those on the left oppose spending tax money on things that don’t work, quite apart from the privacy issue. Or is SDI the only government program where not working is an objection?

  • Doctor Slack

    I haven’t, and I certainly don’t want to have to explain that to some bureaucrat
    Aha, but you’re criticizing from the right again! Look, you said “bureaucrat,” and everyone knows that the right has a pathological terror of bureaucrats, so you’re really criticizing Bush for not being partisan enough, thereby proving you’re partisan and have dismissed all the left’s positions in advance!
    Again, I joke. But see how that sort of game can carry on forever when you haven’t defined your terms carefully beforehand? That’s why people are dismissive of the whole “prove you’re fair-and-balanced” thing,and in particular of how Sullivan framed it. As well they should be.

  • Angus Jung

    Now Atrios is implying that “Sully’s minions” have been sending him viruses. I guess everybody else who got that virus today are Sully victims too… :)

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Sullivan is definitely playing Calvinball here. I listened to the radio show live (nice points, Jeff–your optimism is refreshing), and what Andrew Sullivan said was “…what you’ll never hear Atrios do is criticize the left.”
    I distinctly remember the word “never”. Challenging Atrios to report, on the spot, his anti-left bona fides was a cheap ploy (and unfortuntately typical) on Sullivan’s part. But there is plenty of evidence to make the case that Atrios is willing to “criticize the left,” and I imagine it would be easier to ferret out that evidence if Atrios’ archives were more easily searchable.
    I’ve been reading Eschaton for about a year. Atrios criticizes people on the left often enough that it isn’t even remarkable when he does it. He once posted the photos of all the writers for lefty journals that he could find–to illustrate that it was a lily-white club.
    Atrios doesn’t run around waving sparklers and saying “Look at me! I’m criticizing the left!” when his opinions lead him to do just that. He just does it as part of writing an openly Democrat-favoring, left-leaning, very smart and valuable weblog.
    Andrew Sullivan’s accusation has no merit. The man is either lying or hasn’t read Eschaton enough to be forming an opinion about what Atrios “never” does. Either way, Sullivan’s in the wrong.

  • andy

    So I googled:
    “Daschle” “farm interests” “selling out” atrios – hits 0
    “Daschle” “farm interests” atrios – hits 0
    “Daschle” atrios -3,910
    of those the front 3 pages had 3 hits from Eschaton
    none were a critique
    What did I do wrong?

  • George

    Calling Sullivan a liar for that statement seems a bit strong. I don’t know if Atrios critisizes the left or not, and I don’t really care, but the proper response to such an acusation, if Atrios cared that is, would have been for him to ask Sullivan what exactly he meant. Not to start making wild accusations.
    Lying is saying something with intent to decieve, ie willfully mistating the facts. I don’t think a dispute over “…what you’ll never hear Atrios do is criticize the left” could ever rise to the level where one side could be accused of lying.
    P.S.
    This “I’ve criticized Clinton, Kerry, Lieberman, ands Edwards for their Iraq war votes.” is *not* a citation. A citation is a reference to something, a webpage, a journal article, etc. The above quote is an unsupported assertion which may or may not be true.

  • Hipocrite

    Andy: You are not good with search engines, that’s what’s wrong.
    site:atrios.blogspot.com “ethanol”

  • http://www.doctorweevil.org Dr. Weevil

    So andy’s supposed to be able to guess what particular farm interest Atrios has accused Daschle of selling out to and do a Google search on a term Atrios had neither mentioned or implied? I think you’ve just demonstrated why the other Andy (Sullivan) was justified in asking for links.

  • Hipocrite

    site:atrios.blogspot.com “Daschle has to go”

  • Anonymous

    Andy: You are not good with search engines, that’s what’s wrong
    This is the EXACT thing Jeff was criticizing when he wrote:
    “This is precisely what gives the Internet its bad reputation as a neglected schoolyard, populated by childish, churlish, ignorant little street urchins.
    Discussion and argument and challenges over issues and ideas is welcome here and should be welcome on all weblogs.
    But bitchslaps — as good as they might feel at the moment — should be the subject of regret. ”
    Anyway, when you make a claim (“Sullivan is a liar”) you need to give evidence (links) if you want to convince anyone.

  • Hipocrite

    He’s not good with search engines. If he wanted to search for things Atrios wrote, he should have started any and all of his searches with “site:atrios.blogspot.com”. That’s all I’m saying, that’s all I said.

  • Doctor Slack

    And he’s right. Sullivan in particular is supposed to be passing himself off as an intellectual. The “I’m much too stupid to Google anything” defense is problematic at best in that context.

  • OTB

    You all miss the point. Sullivan has successfully shifted the debate away from why he’s such a spineless political polymorph who flits from one pose to another without any real position. He’s been taking heat for it lately, and so he needed to distract attention by pointing the finger at Atrios.
    How does Sullivan’s moral spinelessness make him superior to someone who stands by his positions?
    And as Jeff said, Sullivan threw the first punch. HE’S the bully and coward here.

  • Doctor Slack

    And as Jeff said, Sullivan threw the first punch. HE’S the bully and coward here.
    No disagreement there.