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The Problem with Andrew Sullivan

Today, I read two pieces by Andrew Sullivan, one linked by a reader, the other by OpinionJournal’s Political Diary. Buried beneath that blogger’s bile were some insightful observations and even the makings of solid arguments. But, as I read each, I realized (yet again) why I don’t much bother with Andrew’s blog any more. It seems that soon after introduces an interesting idea, he launches into some diatribe against the president his Administration and/or those who, from time to time, dare defend him.

Andrew Sullivan’s tendentious tirades and persistent name-calling obscures his occasional wisdom.

He does have a point in the debate on aggressive interrogation techniques and torture, but his obsession with the issue has caused me to question his judgment. The very issue raises an important question: as a free society which values the rule of law, how far should we go in interrogating detainees suspected of terrorist activities so we might learn of (and hence thwart) their associates’ plans to attack civilian — and even military — targets?

Yet, instead of giving a fair hearing to those of us who favor the limited use of aggressive interrogation techniques (which some have called torture), Andrew levels all kinds of angry accusations against the Administration. In today’s piece on the topic, he addresses the conflicting accounts on the value of the information gathered with such aggressive techniques from Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida and resorts to so much name-calling and misrepresentation that he ends up only appealing to his existing audience and other Bush-haters.

He describes the interrogation as “Gestapo-playbook torture,” claims that “that Abu Ghraib was not just Bush policy – official Bush policy was worse” (someone forgot about the Schlesinger report), even suggests there have been “hundreds – and possibly thousands – of torture sessions” in the Bush Administration.

With rhetoric like this, no wonder so many who once regularly read his blog no longer do so.

Andrew finds it incumbent to bring up the issue of torture even in his endorsement of Ron Paul for president. He praises his man and John McCain not just for taking issue with the president’s stand on detainee interrogation, but for taking a “stand against the cancerous and deeply un-American torture and detention regime constructed by Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld.” Torture regime? He makes sound it like torture is the defining agenda of the Administration. Despite this juvenile comment, he does make (in that post) a valid point about the authenticity of McCain and Paul.

In his post on torture, he doesn’t bother to address what he calls the “key argument of torture advocates like Charles Krauthammer.” He merely claims that it has been rendered “moot.” As if the piece he cited proved his point, rather than presenting conflicting views (as it does) on the topic. Indeed, there is a debate among serious pundits and responsible public officials about the merits of aggressive interrogation techniques (with some while conceding that one such method, waterboarding, may be torture, recognizing its effectiveness). Instead of joining their important conversation, Andrew resorts to insults and misrepresentation.

I might take read Andrew more regularly (and take his points more seriously) were he to show greater respect for the opinions of others and refrained from name-calling.

(more…)

60 Minutes Interview on DADT

Posted by Average Gay Joe at 7:38 pm - December 18, 2007.
Filed under: Gays In Military,Military


This past Sunday, the CBS news program 60 minutes ran an interesting segment about gays openly serving in the military despite the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law banning homosexuals. The most prominent servicemember interviewed was US Army Sgt. Darren Manzella, a combat medic currently serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This interview is probably one of the most controversial in awhile as well, since not only is Sgt. Manzella openly serving with the tacit approval of his command, but he is not currently facing discharge proceedings for being gay. I have to be honest and say that while I strongly support the repeal of DADT and Manzella being able to serve openly, I have mixed feelings about his doing this interview. I think that Sgt. Manzella has a compelling story to tell and his open service even in combat shows just how absurd the DADT policy is. Stories like his may help in efforts to repeal this ridiculous law. However, I’m not so sure that this interview was held at the right time for him to speak up. From what he has said, people in his command put themselves on the line in order to keep him in and going public like this may leave some of them feeling betrayed. These commanders didn’t enact this law and obviously value his service, nor can the military itself change it. Thanks to President Clinton signing DADT into law in 1993, only Congress can make any changes or even repeal it. I don’t know Sgt. Manzella nor the entirety of his situation, but what happens to him and them now will help determine what other commands will do in a similiar situation. Will others be so willing to help known gay servicemembers remain in the military while DADT is in place? Difficult to say. I’m not sure that this interview was the right thing for him to do and even he acknowledges that he’ll probably be discharged over it. I think it might have been better to wait until leaving the military voluntarily, or at least when proceedings for discharge under DADT might have been initiated after the war. I’m cynical enough to believe that they would have been after the end of hostilities, which recent history seems to demonstrate. Yet, it is possible that my own experience from the early days under the policy might be coloring how I view this. I don’t know. I just don’t think him doing this interview now was the right move, even though I enjoyed his story. Nevertheless, he does have an interesting story and I have nothing but respect for those who put themselves in danger to save the lives of their fellow soldiers.

Besides Sgt. Manzella, there were other good interviews with some gay veterans. Inluded among these were Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United and Brian Fricke of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Both of these men in particular did a superb job in responding to reasonable questions from Leslie Stahl. The most amusing line though has to go to Fricke, calling those serving today the “Will & Grace Generation”. The more that people hear from gay vets like these gentlemen the more I believe they will see just how stupid this law really is.

Two final quick notes, Congressman Duncan Hunter in my view came across as a total ass, apparently unaware of what these Brits were decorated for, while Major Daniel Davis’ remarks appeared to be plagiarized almost verbatim in parts from the 1949 testimony defending racial segregation by then-SecArmy Kenneth C. Royall.

You can watch the 60 Minutes interview here or download the audio podcast version here (iTunes link).

UPDATE: Chlapowski did a follow-up interview on CNN about this that is well worth watching.

– John (Average Gay Joe)

Last Chance to Vote for Grande Conservative Blogress Diva

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 4:56 pm - December 18, 2007.
Filed under: Blogging,Blogress Divas,General

In just under 24 hours, we’ll be ending the first round of balloting from Grande Conservative Blogress Diva. At 9 AM tomorrow PST (High Noon in the east, GayPatriot Blog time), we’ll be announcing the 4 finalists who will appear on the final ballot.

Please click here to vote for your favorite diva.

And make sure to check out the blogs of these divas, blogresses who by the power of their prose, the eloquence of their expression and the intelligence of their ideas have earned them the enmity of the angry left and so endeared them to gay men like us who admire strong women who speak their mind, even at the expense of encomia from those in the entertainment industry and the MSM:

The Anchoress
Ann Althouse
Little Miss Attila
Tammy Bruce
Dymphna of Gates of Vienna
e-Claire
Bridget Johnson of GOP Vixen
Sondra K of Knowledge is Power
Carol Platt Liebau
Rachel Lucas
Michelle Malkin
neo-neo con
Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury
Pamela of Atlas Shrugs
Virginia Postrel of The Dynamist
Debbie Schlussel
Fausta Wertz

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas Merry Christmas

Sorry folks, I’m really tired of having to say “Happy Holidays”. I’m taking back Christmas.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)