The Politics of Bad Faith II

I have been meaning to address the issue of Sullivan and other’s latest attack on Glenn Reynold’s. I intended it to be a follow up to The Politics of Bad Faith, and I may still have more to say on that, especially Jim Henley’s comment “In a corrupt political discourse, no label is much use.” But on this particular charge Eric Scheie has written it for me. So go ahead and read the whole thing, because like Glenn, those of us who are not as outraged as some are, about some things, must therefore support:

the permanent suspension of habeas corpus, the transformation of the executive branch into a de facto extra-legal protectorate, the breaking of laws by the president, the authorization of torture, warrantless wiretapping, a war based on intelligence that simply wasn’t there, and a ramping up of the drug war.

The idea that Reynolds has been silent on the drug war is so untrue as to be laughable. This enters the territory of a lie. Anyone who reads Instapundit knows that isn’t true. So either Sullivan is lying about what he has read, or he is lying by asserting he has read it enough to know. Either way, it is a lie.

On every subject above Reynolds has posts, which could be referenced if Sullivan wished to, but doesn’t, that discuss those issues. Sullivan has in the past used as a source on Reynolds a man who not only is a sock puppet but claims Glenn Reynolds holds to views which express a murderous sociopathic, bloodthirsty, downright frightening right-wing authoritarianism. Glenn is pure evil, a man with murder in his heart in these people’s world, but Andrew actually finds them credible?

What upsets Sullivan is that Reynolds isn’t as exercised and obsessed about these issues as he is, thus he seems to feel  he doesn’t have any responsibility to temper his diatribes with anything so inconvenient as the truth. This bothers me because of course I have been the subject of the same kind of complaint, and the same tactics, it is a pattern. Sullivan and others complain about the “Malkinization of the blogosphere,” but I have far more fear of the Greenwaldization of it. The reason is that at its heart it is a “take no prisoners” approach to politics (as his friend Mona has described their philosophy to me) that believes the ends justify the means. Eric some time ago took the time to analyze their philosophy in the Sock Puppets own words:

There are some people who treat our conflicts with the Bush administration and their followers as just a matter of basic, friendly political and policy differences–along the lines of “what should the rate of capital gains tax be?” or “what type of laws can best encourage employers to provide more benefits to their employees”–and therefore, we treat people who support the administration with respect and civility and simply have nice, clean discussions to sort out our differences among well-intentioned people.That isn’t how I see that, and nobody should come to this blog expecting that. I don’t think I’ve done anything to lead anyone to expect otherwise. I see the Bush movement and its various component parts as a plague and a threat, as anything but well-intentioned. My goal, politically speaking, is to do what I can to undermine it and the institutions that have both supported and enabled it.

When faced with a plague and a threat anything is justified. Thus the extreme statements about Glenn and many others from all of Greenwald’s clique.  He has a goal, not any desire for truth or fairness. Civility is to be despised, and nobody who disagrees with him can possibly be well intentioned.

Like Eric, as a longtime fan of Andrew’s, I hope this tack he is taking toward the Greenwald view of the world is temporary, but I am beginning to wonder.

Go let Eric tease some of the threads in that pattern out, it is well worth the effort.

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14 Responses to “The Politics of Bad Faith II”

  1. on 07 Nov 2007 at 12:51 am Joshua Foust

    In defense of the bit about torture, and to throw a bit of water on Scheie’s analysis, the original complainant (i.e. the blogger “instaputz”) actually says the following:

    No one has accused [Instapundit] of being pro-torture. On the contrary, the complaint about [Instapundit] is that he claims to be anti-torture while (a) glibly downplaying its significance; (b) failing to criticize those in the Bush administration responsible while; (c) attacking everyone who brings up torture as being politically motivated and disingenuous. Exactly what he’s done again.

    So even there, both sides are playing in bad faith, by misrepresenting a possible misrepresentation of a misrepresentation. Or something. It’s all politics anyway, right?

  2. on 07 Nov 2007 at 1:07 am Joshua Foust

    I guess it’s also worth mentioning another target of that Instaputz guy, Richard Miniter, also has a history of saying some pretty outrageous things. So I have to say I have a hard time feeling pity for him when his words get amplified and distorted in a game of political telephone as word spreads about his nasty combination loudmouth/ignorance.

  3. on 07 Nov 2007 at 4:06 am Lance

    So I have to say I have a hard time feeling pity for him when his words get amplified and distorted in a game of political telephone as word spreads about his nasty combination loudmouth/ignorance.

    Well, as long as you don’t like what the man says I guess it is alright to lie about him? I don’t think you really mean that, but nobody asked you to feel pity for him. Just to be offended at the games serial liars play.

    the original complainant (i.e. the blogger “instaputz”) actually says the following:

    Actually that was later, and I don’t see how that effects Eric’s point at all, which is about what Sullivan is saying based on the truncated quote.

    So I don’t see any misrepresentation from that side of this argument at all. More importantly it is a tendentious and rather dishonest series of points the putz is trying to make as well.

    (a) glibly downplaying its significance

    That is all relative. To the people maximizing its importance, to the point of making things up, exaggerating what is actually being done, all the while supporting people who have admitted that in conditions of extremis might do the same, well then Glenn is minimizing it. To the maximizer all who are not engaged in that are minimizers.

    failing to criticize those in the Bush administration responsible

    Except he does. Of course, in the world of the Greenwald clique, criticism isn’t really criticism unless you are as severe and twisted in your portrayal of the evil doers as they. In the rest of the world we see criticism as, well, criticism. I don’t know how many criticisms of the administration Glenn has made, but I assure you you wouldn’t be able to read them all, as well as the relevant links, if you stayed up the rest of the night. Throw in all the links to people criticizing them, whether you wish to deem them “approving links” I’ll let you decide, and I am sure we could keep you busy for quite a while.

    (c) attacking everyone who brings up torture as being politically motivated and disingenuous

    Except he doesn’t do that either. He hasn’t attacked you for example. Now that is taking him literally, but it doesn’t work as a colloquialism either. Glenn is criticizing those who are exhibiting the behavior described, which includes many political operatives and those who are using double standards and double talk and those who engage in the aforementioned hysterical and dishonest caricature. Of course in the world of Blue Texan (Instaputz) and the sock puppet (as pointed out above) only those who see the administration and conservatives in as evil terms as they do are really bringing up or care about torture.

    Everybody else, such as Glenn, myself, Captain Ed, all of us, is actually just conspiring to cover their evil deeds. So in that whacked out view of the world, yeah, I guess he is attacking all of them, since they have defined themselves as the only people actually opposed to torture. Any distinctions made are disingenuous, because we would run around murdering and torturing millions if we could only openly admit it. They believe that stuff, and unlike the way they twist words and put them back in our mouths (as Eric demonstrates, and I have in the past) they make no bones that that is what they believe. As the quote above illustrates, it is also what they use to justify whatever they say. They know the inner truth, so they have full rein to make sure the words of others in fact do reflect that inner truth. So their lies and distortions are more true than the words Glenn Reynolds or others actually say. Fake, but accurate, rides on.

  4. on 07 Nov 2007 at 4:26 am Joshua Foust

    Hey, you’ll get no argument from me that Queen Sully is a blowhard in dire need of critical reading skills (and maybe not a continuous failure upward through the ranks of publishing). I’m just saying it’s not quite the same to complain about Sully getting both sides of the argument wrong. Even the original post (the “original complainant,” even if the term does not really exist as a real word, was in reference to the blog), though, wasn’t quite as disingenuous as I think you’re letting Scheie say. That is to say, BT very well may have exaggerated and over-simplified the Instapundit to the point where he was little more than a caricature of himself… which also happens to be the meat of my primary complaint with the Instapundit as well—especially about matters Central Asian. That certainly does not excuse it—and I think our discussion earlier about Barnett can back up how deeply frustrated I get with that process—but it also makes this issue a bit different. I think.

    But I guess the core of Blue Texan’s follow up, which is that it’s a bit cheap only to complain about the tone of an argument while ignoring its merits, is one I happen to agree with. You and I have come to agree that lying or using hyperbole about this stuff is deeply counterproductive; however, the reaction against “those crazy liberals” can just as often be as silly and stupid. My dad, for instance, has this wonderful penchant for liking something only because liberals do not; one of my ex-boyfriends plays the exact same game with conservatives (he even has a ludicrous bumper sticker on his expensive CLK55 letting the world know he is obsessive enough to “piss off the radical right”).

    So I guess that’s the dynamic I’m looking at. It is counterproductive, so much so that the zombie partisans—on both sides of whatever issue happens to be contentious at the moment—will take opposing views and smear each other, perhaps for the sport of it.

    On a totally unrelated note, this is why I find a perverse thrill in being disliked by most prominent liberal and conservative bloggers—from Instapundit to Queen Sully, the sock puppet to LaShawn Barber.

  5. on 07 Nov 2007 at 5:02 am Lance

    especially about matters Central Asian

    Once again, Instapundit doesn’t claim to be an expert on Central Asia, which is why he has linked to you and people you disagree with. Instaputz does claim to be an expert on Instapundit.

    I link to people all the time who I hope have an idea of what they are talking about, including you. Heck, though it has unfortunately been deemphasized, it is the main reason I wanted you here. I don’t want to be ridiculed by some other expert about linking to you. They should attack you instead without their ire being primarily directed at me.

    this is why I find a perverse thrill in being disliked by most prominent liberal and conservative bloggers—from Instapundit to Queen Sully, the sock puppet to LaShawn Barber.

    I don’t know about the others, but I see no evidence Instapundit dislikes you except to the extent that you attack him.

    however, the reaction against “those crazy liberals” can just as often be as silly and stupid.

    Except Instapundit isn’t guilty of that either. On some issues, and with some liberals, he does feel that way. He after all disagrees with them. On issues where he doesn’t feel they deserve criticism he withholds it, and even praises them. He does the same with conservatives. Not to mention, it isn’t as if you don’t snark away yourself. So Doctor, turn the stethoscope around.

    But I guess the core of Blue Texan’s follow up, which is that it’s a bit cheap only to complain about the tone of an argument while ignoring its merits, is one I happen to agree with.

    But that isn’t what Eric’s post is about. Nor is it valid anyway. Glenn thinks the merits of their case are bad as well. I can be opposed to racism, and still criticize Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. To then claim either that I am a racist, or deny racism exists, or that I only object to the style or tone of the argument is false. Glenn believes they are being dishonest. I do too, but that is really beside the point. It is perfectly valid to point out they are doing that. It doesn’t imply that he is only replying to that because he doesn’t care about the underlying issue. He has addressed that issue, they just want him to agree with them about its relative import, the amount of time he spends on it,what to do about it, and most importantly, not to call them when they lie, exaggerate and distort the issue. If not, he is pro torture and anything they say or distort to smear him with that label is okay for the reasons I have already covered.

  6. on 07 Nov 2007 at 1:31 pm Keith_Indy

    Don’t you find it interesting that their, “do whatever it takes, no holds barred, take no prisoners approach,” is exactly the behavior they find so evil in the administration…

  7. on 07 Nov 2007 at 1:34 pm Joshua Foust

    No, he doesn’t claim to be an expert, but for years and years he pushes the ideas of those who do but clearly aren’t, and adopts a glib and petulant attitude about it (his most recent comment comparing Pakistan and Venezuela being only the most recent). “This is interesting,” which is a good description of how you link to others (and why I can’t recall ever zinging you for linking to someone) is a bit different than “look at how silly those liberals look if you read this blogger” (which is the one of many of Instapundit’s links).

    Which is exactly my complaint about him (I recall specifically him writing off a NATO report about how they’re killing too many civilians and thus turning the population against them as “Taliban propaganda”).

    Anyway, you’re right that BT exaggerates and distorts the picture. I wasn’t talking about that, merely the technique on the right he complains about, which is to jump into a debate using just as much snark and sarcasm and vitriol as everyone else, then retreat into a debate about tone and politicizing the war. Glenn disagrees with the merits as well? That’s BT’s problem too. So what happens when we both have issues with how the argument is being presented? I mean, the Insta-group freaks out when liberals demand treatment on social issues, then without a trace of irony complain the world is focusing on one international crisis to the exclusion of others (or even worse, focusing on the wrong social problem). But the other Glenn-group does the exact same thing.

    It is childish, perhaps even beyond childish. But I levy that charge at both sides. Rather than choosing which side happens to argue more ethically at the moment, I choose in general to ignore both.

  8. on 07 Nov 2007 at 2:47 pm Keith_Indy

    Megan McArdle has a post up which talks about this issue.

    It also points to a post by Julian Sanchez which shows the simplification of opposing arguments in a very amusing way.

  9. on 07 Nov 2007 at 3:17 pm Lance

    Glenn disagrees with the merits as well?

    The merits of their case to be clear, not whether torture is wrong, or the administration deserves criticism, which he produces in large amounts. Kind of like discussing racism as noted above, his problem is they are Al Sharpton in that analogy. Then you come in and say, well you have a bad tone too. Which may be true in your mind, but the issue isn’t the tone, it is the merits of the Sharpton case. Like Sharpton they then complain he doesn’t really care about the issue because he isn’t as over the top as they. It is a neat trick.

    This is not a pox on both of their houses situation. You can think he is wrong, well who isn’t on any number of issues in each of our minds, but that is not the same thing as what they are doing, and for you to equate them is very unfortunate. Coming to a conclusion or a different weighing of things importance, or seeing things in ways you think are not accurate is inevitable. Lying is not. To say you have a problem with how each of them present the argument is to compare apples to oranges. One you disagree with, you may even think they are ignoring important evidence, the other is just a lie, or showing you care so little for the truth that it is just as dishonest. That is what Sullivan did above and Blue Texan does as well. They either knowingly lied (most easily shown in the example of Sullivan and the drug war reference) or never even bothered to find the truth, they just made it up.

    To put it another way, the problem with their tone is the problem with the merit of their argument. Tone was your term, not his. He also doesn’t like their tone, the problem though is their tone is based on bad and ultimately false facts. The merits to put it another way. If they were just snarky, he has proven he won’t spend too much time on it. It is that they are wrong and misstate. That isn’t tone or style. It is the crux of his, and my issue. Also, his tone is no where near as bad as theirs anyway. There is never an inch of grace or credit from BT and GG. Reynolds gives it to people he disagrees with all the time.

    his most recent comment comparing Pakistan and Venezuela being only the most recent

    I went and found the last roundup of links where he makes that comparison. You can disagree with them, but there is nothing offensive about them. To compare this observation with Bt and GG is just staggering.

    WHY IS THE WORLD MORE CONCERNED with Musharraf’s coup than with Hugo Chavez’s emerging dicatatorship? Because enemies of the United States, like Chavez, get a pass.

    That is just true. The only way you could find that offensive is to read into it something that isn’t there, such as some kind of support for Musharraf, which is the kind of thing BT and GG do. Of course that is wrong as this makes clear:

    MORE: Tom Maguire emails: “I am certain that you personally think Pakistan is currently more important than Venezuela - I base that on the number of Pakistan links in the last few days vis a vis Venezuela.” Well, yes, but I was talking about the moral condemnation.

    Last link in it and his comments:

    STILL MORE: Jon Kay takes a more positive view: “There is one important difference: in Pakistan, there’s a real chance of bringing Pakistan to the democratic fold with the pressure cooker. I sure don’t see any such chance in Venezuela.” But read the first comment for a more cynical take. Excerpt: “That explanation doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me, since it’s not just the amount but the tone of the coverage. Maybe the Economist voices the appropriate concern, but my impression of coverage of Chavez is that it’s generally neutral to positive: accounts of some Hollywood nitwit or other’s giving Chavez a photo op, uncritically passing on Chavez’s diatribes against Bush and the US, thumb-suckers that regard resurgent leftism in South America as a generally hopeful sign.”

    So unless you are reading something in, I don’t see what you could possibly be offended by with that statement. He gives some different views on it, and yes they are mostly views saying “crazy leftists” but, he is right, or at least it isn’t an offensive observation that Chavez gets more positive coverage for becoming a dictator from liberals and leftists than Musharraf. Maybe you think he should, but it isn’t based on lying, or misstating the views of others or the facts about Chavez. I can’t see how you can equate whatever you have against this little exchange with BT, GG or Sullivan lately.

  10. on 07 Nov 2007 at 5:37 pm Joshua Foust

    I’ve addressed the Pakistan post. To discuss his main point: the phrasing implies that Chavez is an enemy of the US, and that Pakistan is not. Both are verifiably false (while Chavez is antagonistic toward Bush, he is not a national enemy, or perhaps he would have stopped sending us millions of barrels of oil a day; similarly Musharraf has not only acted in ways directly counter to American interest, he has justified doing so, saying he is primarily concerned with Pakistan’s strategic interest and not Americans—not a crime by any means, but not the behavior of a friend, especially with regards his actions toward Islamic militancy).

    I talked his update, too (which was pretty meaningless): To compare the two countries is beyond daft; to retreat into the standard “he’s OUR son-of-a-bitch” trope is pathetic considering how often Musharraf has undermined U.S. interests; to pretend Chavez poses any real threat to American interests beyond angering oil companies whose conduct in poor countries make them truly limp targets of pity is to be ignorant of his real power and influence in the region.

    To me, this is perfectly emblematic of his philosophy: it’s one thing to be glib or snarky when you have a point to make (which is why I love it when you guys can zing me so good). But when you’re babbling literal incoherencies, it’s a bit much… especially when you’ve also annointed yourself the media watchdog (recall before when he got angry about me complaining about not updating his post quickly enough… while he was angry for the LA Times not updating a story quickly enough). It is a different type of disingenuousness, yes, but it is nevertheless disingenuous and it is tiresome.

    And yes, I found his statements there offensive, at least as a thinking person.

    And to note: his first update was principally about the tone of the coverage, while cleverly taking a sort-of position he can defend from sloppy phrasing.

    And Instapundit avoids the issue by saying “real” torture is wrong, while defining torture as “coercive” and not “torture.” It’s a nice ploy, but pretty unproductive (especially given the historical roots of the current debate, in which waterboarding has always been defined as “torture” unless applied to suspected terrorists)… and then he complains about people going to extremes to justify their positions.

    Again: it’s a bit much for my taste. So yes, fie on both houses.

  11. on 07 Nov 2007 at 5:57 pm Lance

    No time for the rest, but on Pakistan you are misreading him. Whether Musharraf is a good ally is not what he is talking about. He is talking about some of the reasons for the disparate coverage. Musharraf is perceived as a our ally. Chavez is perceived as standing up to the US. Glenn believes that explains part of the reason why the coverage by many liberals and leftists is so different, though they are both dictators. All of the rest is just not what he is talking about. For example:

    to retreat into the standard “he’s OUR son-of-a-bitch” trope is pathetic

    That just has nothing to do with the post. You are reading stuff into it that is not there. Or, I should say, Glenn is pointing out that the people who laud Chavez and are now outraged about Musharraf, see him as our son of a bitch and explains some of the difference. He isn’t claiming they are a threat to us, he is focusing on the moral dimension of the reaction. You have who is looking at it that way exactly backward. On what he is talking about it is not beyond daft, it is an irritant to many including me. This is especially strange given the many conservatives and neo-cons complaining about Musharraf. I guess Glenn is off the reservation in your interpretation.

  12. on 08 Nov 2007 at 2:42 am Joshua Foust

    Uhh, his language was not very ambiguous. He made a distinction between Pakistan and Venezuela and said “the world” (I’m assuming he means the liberal media) doesn’t care only when it involves “enemies of the United States, like Chavez.”

    WHY IS THE WORLD MORE CONCERNED with Musharraf’s coup than with Hugo Chavez’s emerging dicatatorship? Because enemies of the United States, like Chavez, get a pass.

    While it’s true he is discussing coverage, the meaning of his words is clear. I’m not out on a limb for finding this a laughably incoherent statement. So yes, he can place it in the context of the moral outrage, but he’s still unbelievably wrong—despite the shootings today, Chavez has created far less misery and chaos, and done almost nothing to encourage the destruction of Afghanistan, to the scale Musharraf has.

    You’re also misreading the “our son of a bitch” comment. That was in reference to him linking Gateway Pundit, who made the argument that Musharraf’s election last month was a triumph of democracy the “the liberal media” had issues with its fraudulence and non-transparency because they hate America. And let’s not forget the time he wrote off the Hazara as “murderous religious loonies” (whose silliness is explained here).

    So yes, I’ll stick with “beyond daft.”

  13. on 08 Nov 2007 at 4:19 am Joshua Foust

    Umm, did this just eat my reply? Or did a spambot catch it?

  14. on 08 Nov 2007 at 5:05 am Lance

    despite the shootings today, Chavez has created far less misery and chaos, and done almost nothing to encourage the destruction of Afghanistan, to the scale Musharraf has.

    That has nothing to do with his post. It doesn’t matter even if he does believe Musharraf is to be preferred to Chavez, it is not what he is posting about! Period, end of story. You can continue to try and shoehorn that into the post all you want, but it doesn’t fit. Period.

    First of all, if Glenn believes that, it is not in this post! Get it? Shoehorning run amuck. Second, your complaint is with Jim, not Glenn.

    And let’s not forget the time he wrote off the Hazara as “murderous religious loonies”

    No he doesn’t. He links to somebody who quotes somebody who feels it will lead to violence. He thinks that reaction is looney, which it is. He doesn’t say anything about the Hazaras. The complaint shouldn’t be aimed at Glenn, but at a western press, such as the New York Times, that believes this stuff. Glenn read them, linked to stories on it. That is when you do what many people do when Glenn links to something they think isn’t right. You e-mail him and explain why. He often prints them, or links to the blog posts if there is one. Sheesh, you are being ridiculous. I thought it was overblown, but I certainly didn’t expect people who read the coverage to believe other wise. I certainly wouldn’t consider them daft for listening to the news reports. Maybe you should have sent Afghanistanica’s post to Glenn. It works, I know. Try that with GG or BT. Good luck if you do. They never, ever back down. In contrast Glenn R says, “Good Point!” or “Afghanistanica feels the concern is overblown, I hope so, just goes to show what believing the New York Times will get you.” See, some gentle fun at the Times expense and another view up. That is very typical.

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