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Unthinking Tank -- Heritage Edition:

If you are a conservative or libertarian who criticizes the Bush Administration, Andrew Sullivan reports (and Ryan Sager confirms) you are not welcome at the Heritage Foundation, even for dinner. (LvIP)

UPDATE: The Heritage Foundation's Tim Chapman comments here. His post includes Heritage's "official response":

Failure to invite a non-member to a members-only event is not an exercise in blackballing. Declining to host an event when an alternative venue is available is not blackballing.
That's not exactly a denial of the allegations. Meanwhile, Bruce Bartlett writes:
The Heritage event to which I was uninvited due to my criticism of Bush's policies was not some ordinary one of the type Heritage hosts every day. It was specifically to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1981 tax cut. As far as I am aware, every major living figure involved in the enactment of this legislation was invited except me. I seriously doubt that any are paying contributors to the Heritage Foundation. The organization knows full well about my involvement in the 1981 tax cut because I was a senior fellow at Heritage for three years back in the 1980s before leaving to work for Ronald Reagan in the White House. I was, in fact, the staff person on Jack Kemp's congressional staff who drafted the original Kemp-Roth tax cut, upon which the Reagan bill was based, back in 1977. Many others also contributed. Some of those invited to the Heritage event did not. People can draw their own conclusions about these facts.
Heritage is free to invite whom they choose to their events and offer or decline the use of their facilities by outside groups for whatever reason they please -- but there is nothing "un-libertarian" about criticizing the exercise of that choice.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Banned at Heritage?:
  2. Unthinking Tank -- Heritage Edition:
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Good joke! For a minute I thought you might be trying to make a serious point until I followed the links that you provided.
11.21.2006 11:44am
rho (www):
Suddenly we take Andy's word without question? When did this happen?
11.21.2006 11:47am
Steve:
Suddenly we take Andy's word without question?

Yeah, seriously. The post could have at least linked to someone confirming Sullivan's account.
11.21.2006 11:53am
Thales (mail) (www):
The comments above make one wonder: does anyone have a good reason to doubt that Sullivan's and Sager's accounts are true? Why? The firing of Bruce Bartlett for his entirely accurate criticism of the administration's fiscal policy is well known. Many think tanks have at least a pretense of evenhandedness or brooking dissent within their affiliate ideology. It is clear that this is no longer true of Heritage. These guys can just speak at Cato or wherever from now on.
11.21.2006 11:58am
Mr. X (www):
Well, you have Sullivan and Sager both saying the same thing and, as yet, nobody from Heritage denying it.
11.21.2006 12:01pm
WHOI Jacket:
Via Instapundit:

UPDATE: A Heritage response: "Failure to invite a non-member to a members-only event is not an exercise in blackballing. Declining to host an event when an alternative venue is available is not blackballing."
11.21.2006 12:29pm
rho (www):
I'm not saying it's untrue that Heritage kicked Sager out for apostasy or something. I do disagree with accepting Andy's spin on anything without some serious fact-checking and preferably not before a official response from Heritage.
11.21.2006 12:32pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Sullivan: But when Heritage found out that Sager was the speaker this month, the Prosperity Caucus was asked to take things elsewhere.

Heritage: Declining to host an event when an alternative venue is available is not blackballing.

Why change the subject? Is it, or isn't it, true that they found out Sager was speaking, and *then* said "not on our turf"?

The contemptuous remarks above, incidentally, bolster Sullivan's point. If you're a Bush critic, then everything you say must be false.
11.21.2006 1:11pm
alkali (mail) (www):
"As apostates, Sullivan and Sager are by definition unreliable. Loyal members should wait for the official party line before speaking."
11.21.2006 1:13pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

UPDATE: A Heritage response: "Failure to invite a non-member to a members-only event is not an exercise in blackballing. Declining to host an event when an alternative venue is available is not blackballing."


true, but it is damned silly behavior.
11.21.2006 1:31pm
plunge (mail):
Heritage's response is exactly the sort of carefully parsed sentence that makes it quite clear that the accusations are true.

I mean come on: "alternative venues" are always available for everything. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Did they demand that the event be moved after finding out who was speaking or not?

If blacks can't be members of all-white golf clubs, then I guess technically, they aren't being discriminated against when they aren't invited to members-only events, right?
11.21.2006 1:38pm
Jeek:
Why is this even an issue? What obligation does Heritage have to Ryan Sager? None whatsoever so far as I can tell. Why is it "silly" not to host an event for a guy with whom they have no obligation or official connection? A libertarian, of all people, should understand and accept that Heritage can invite or not invite whoever they want, for any reason they want, or even for no reason at all.

I for one am tired of Sullivan's self-righteous whining.
11.21.2006 1:47pm
Steve:
There are intellectually honest conservatives, and then there are water-carrying conservatives. It behooves us to distinguish one from the other.
11.21.2006 2:04pm
SP:
"There are intellectually honest conservatives, and then there are water-carrying conservatives."

But if we are to classify Andrew Sullivan, we're going to need to add a category for money-sniffing drama queens who play conservative when it will boost their hit count.
11.21.2006 2:26pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
But if we are to classify Andrew Sullivan, we're going to need to add a category for money-sniffing drama queens who play conservative when it will boost their hit count.

Right. Because only a "drama queen" would be upset that the U.S. tortures people as a matter of official, secret policy.

(Silly queers, trying to impose their perverted values on right-thinking heterosexual pro-torture Americans!)
11.21.2006 2:31pm
Gary McGath (www):
That's a generalization from two data points. Still, it's plausible; the last piece of junk mail I got from Heritage (with Steve Forbes' name on it) was so rabidly anti-anti-war that I filled the business reply envelope they kindly sent with as much scrap paper as would fit and mailed it back.
11.21.2006 2:33pm
Jeek:
Right. Because only a "drama queen" would be upset that the U.S. tortures people as a matter of official, secret policy.

The problem is not that he's a drama queen, but that he fails to define his terms while baying about how morally and ethically superior he is and how evil and immoral his opponents are.

Oh wait, I guess the problem is that he IS a drama queen, after all...
11.21.2006 2:45pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Is Andrew Sullivan a conservative? He claims that in the UK he was a Thatcherite. Did he break with Thatcher concerning the internment of members of the Provisional IRA without charge? If not, then why is he so upset with Bush for interning terrorists at Gitmo? I have a hard time taking him seriously. On the other hand, what makes Bush a conservative? Other than lowering taxes, I don't see how Bush qualifies as a conservative either. I wouldn't invite Sullivan (or Bush) to dinner either.
11.21.2006 2:48pm
M. Lederman (mail):
"[Andrew Sullivan] fails to define his terms . . . ."

To the contrary: Andrew has been fairly consistent about calling things by their right names, even when the President won't: He (rightly) insists that waterboarding is torture and that other "alternative" Administration techniques, such as stress positions, "Long Time Standing," "Cold Cell," prolonged sleep deprivation, and threats of violence against a detainee and his children, are either torture as such, or at the very least "cruel treatment" also made unlawful under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.

I know there are folks here who think these techniques ought to be legal. But at least for the time being, they're not, and Andrew has been perfectly clear in arguing that we should obey the law.
11.21.2006 2:59pm
Brian Garst (www):
Right. Because only a "drama queen" would be upset that the U.S. tortures people as a matter of official, secret policy.

That's a nice strawman. Too bad he never said he was a drama queen simply because of that issue. He's a drama queen because he routinely wraps himself up in a blanket of victimhood anytime someone disagrees with him, all the while condemnding them for such nonsense points as "not showing enough doubt". Meanwhile, he's the master of doing one thing and condemning it in others. He complains that his detractors don't have enough "doubt", and then asserts without shame that the laws of Andrew Sullivan are irrefutable, because Andrew Sullivan said so, and anyone who disagrees is an evil homophobic christianist.
11.21.2006 5:13pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Sorry, Marty, but your arguments as to the techniques other than waterboarding are not persuasive. I, and many others who read this blog, feel they are not banned by the Geneva Convention. Quit pretending that we wish to change the law.

As for the original topic of this thread, perhaps it is not Bartlett and Sager's criticisms of the Bush administration, but their criticisms of Heritage itself, that have gotten them disinvited.

Nick
11.21.2006 7:03pm
Steve:
I imagine not a lot of people care about Ryan Sager one way or the other, but it's a pretty sad day for the conservative movement when Bruce Bartlett, of all people, becomes an apostate.
11.21.2006 7:33pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
your arguments as to the techniques other than waterboarding are not persuasive

Yeah, and besides the burning people at the stake, the Spanish Inquisition was really no big deal, despite what those liberal drama queens would like us to believe.
11.21.2006 8:18pm
Michael B (mail):
If Sullivan is not a dramatis persona, very much in the mold described directly above, then I don't know who is.

As for the Spanish Inquisition a big deal it was, though a great deal less big than is typically imagined and portrayed. One example only, during its entirety a few thousand were killed and at no time were they killed en masse. Compare that to the millions killed, and often en masse, during Uncle Ho's, Stalin's, Pol Pot's, Mao's, etc. various reigns.
11.21.2006 9:53pm
Thales (mail) (www):
NickM: "Sorry, Marty, but your arguments as to the techniques other than waterboarding are not persuasive. I, and many others who read this blog, feel they are not banned by the Geneva Convention. Quit pretending that we wish to change the law."

Wow--an impressively thorough refutation of Marty Lederman's extensive work on the subject. I guess he can just pack up his bags and go home. Sheesh, even John Yoo thinks he needs to argue that the Geneva Conventions are inapplicable or unconstitutional when dealing with terrorism suspects, not just that they actually allow the "techniques" in question. I think I stand safe in asserting that many informed people who read this blog actually do think the techniques violate the law, regardless of what they would like the law to be. And some number of us believe it unwise or unnecessary to change the law to accomodate the whims of an administration that has yet to demonstrate (at least publicly) substantial successes in preventing terrorism or bringing actual terrorists to justice. Wannabes such as Mossoaui don't count.
11.22.2006 12:02am
Michael B (mail):
M. Lederman makes the point that Sullivan "defines his terms" as pertains to the narrower topic of what does or does not constitute "torture" or "cruel treatment" according to the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture. Perhaps Sullivan does or perhaps he doesn't, but within that specific or narrower discussion, what does it mean to "define" one's terms? What can "sleep deprivation" or "stress positions" or "Long Time Standing" or "threats of violence" mean other than what they do mean to someone in possession of some common sense?

If Sullivan has a pet dog, and in fact refers to it as a dog rather than a cat or a wallaby or some other label, are we to applaud Sullivan for "defining his terms" and being consistent? Ostensibly and for some type of rhetorical and argumentative effect we might do so - but I hardly think it would be very meaningful to do so.

Simple fact is, M. Lederman makes statements in this vein without supporting them with quotes or links from Sullivan or the Administration. Perhaps the allusion was intended for some other aspect of the debate, regardless, it's not at all apparent
11.22.2006 4:51pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Gee Thales, it's nice to know that I'm supposed to do a "thorough refutation" for you. While I'm at it, should I also do your laundry and wash your car?

Lederman is mischaracterizing other people's positions and engaging in sophistry by pretending that it is essentially universally accepted that these techniques violate the Geneva Convention. It doesn't take a full-length law review article in a blog post to call him on his mischaracterization - and pointing to John Yoo's arguments doesn't bind anyone but John Yoo. Lederman is not a federal judge whose opinion actually binds anyone. Neither am I. Of course, you may be, since you're anonymous, but unless you are and you write an opinion ruling them unlawful, your opinion doesn't matter beyond anyone else you convince. I'm not the one pretending that this isn't a hotly disputed legal issue.

Anderson - how many people were waterboarded? I can think of far greater and more widespread abuses of government power to get worked up about. And I don't want to give terrorism suspects the Comfy Chair.

Nick
11.23.2006 2:03am