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Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

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Old 04-30-09, 09:51 PM   #51
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
I think the fact that in a seemingly lighthearted thread about political gaffes, people getting worked up about 'hypocrisy' is hilarious in itself.
I am pretty funny.
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Old 05-01-09, 05:00 AM   #52
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
It's highly disputed that Scotland was acting with the knowledge and authority of Churchill's government. In any event, this is probably the story President Obama was refering to.
You (and Obama) may want to hold back any reverence for "Tin Eye"'s interrogation techniques...

Quote:
The interrogation camp that turned prisoners into living skeletons

German spa became a forbidden village where Gestapo-like techniques were used

* Ian Cobain
* The Guardian, Saturday 17 December 2005
* Article history

Despite the six years of bitter fighting which lay behind him, James Morgan-Jones, a major in the Royal Artillery, could not have been more specific about the spectacle in front of him. "It was," he reported, "one of the most disgusting sights of my life."

Curled up on a bed in a hospital in Rotenburg, near Bremen, was a cadaverous shadow of a human being. "The man literally had no flesh on him, his state of emaciation was incredible," wrote Morgan-Jones. This man had weighed a little over six stones (38kg) on admission five weeks earlier, and "was still a figure which may well have been one of the Belsen inmates". At the base of his spine "was a huge festering sore", and he was clearly terrified of returning to the prison where he had been brought so close to death. "If ever a man showed fear - he did," Morgan-Jones declared.

Adolf Galla, 36, a dental technician, was not alone. A few beds away lay Robert Buttlar, 27, a journalist, who had been admitted after swallowing a spoon handle in a suicide attempt at the same prison. He too was emaciated and four of his toes had been lost to frostbite.

The previous month, January 1947, two other inmates, Walter Bergmann, 20, and Franz Osterreicher, 38, had died of malnutrition within hours of arriving at the hospital. Over the previous 13 months, Major Morgan-Jones learned, 45 inmates of this prison, including several women, had been dumped at Rotenburg. Each was severely starved, frostbitten, and caked in dirt. Some had been beaten or whipped.

The same week that Major Morgan-Jones was submitting his report, a British doctor called Jordan was raising similar concerns at an internment camp 130 miles away. Dr Jordan complained to his superiors that eight men who had been transferred from the same prison "were all suffering gross malnutrition ... one in my opinion dying".

They included Gerhard Menzel, 23, a 6ft German former soldier who weighed seven stones, and was described as a living skeleton. Another, admitted as Morice Marcellini, a 27-year-old Frenchman, later transpired to be Alexander Kalkowski, a captain in the Soviet secret police, the NKVD. He weighed a little over eight stones, and complained that he had been severely beaten and forced to spend eight hours a day in a cold bath.

Prisoners complained thumbscrews and "shin screws" were employed at the prison and Dr Jordan's report highlighted the small, round scars that he had seen on the legs of two men, "which were said to be the result of the use of some instrument to facilitate questioning". One of these men was Hans Habermann, a 43-year-old disabled German Jew who had survived three years in Buchenwald concentration camp.

All of these men had been held at Bad Nenndorf, a small, once-elegant spa resort near Hanover. Here, an organisation called the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC) ran a secret prison following the British occupation of north-west Germany in 1945.

CSDIC, a division of the War Office, operated interrogation centres around the world, including one known as the London Cage, located in one of London's most exclusive neighbourhoods. Official documents discovered last month at the National Archives at Kew, south-west London, show that the London Cage was a secret torture centre where German prisoners who had been concealed from the Red Cross were beaten, deprived of sleep, and threatened with execution or with unnecessary surgery.

As horrific as conditions were at the London Cage, Bad Nenndorf was far worse. Last week, Foreign Office files which have remained closed for almost 60 years were opened after a request by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act. These papers, and others declassified earlier, lay bare the appalling suffering of many of the 372 men and 44 women who passed through the centre during the 22 months it operated before its closure in July 1947.

They detail the investigation carried out by a Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Tom Hayward, following the complaints of Major Morgan-Jones and Dr Jordan. Despite the precise and formal prose of the detective's report to the military government, anger and revulsion leap from every page as he turns his spotlight on a place where prisoners were systematically beaten and exposed to extreme cold, where some were starved to death and, allegedly, tortured with instruments that his fellow countrymen had recovered from a Gestapo prison in Hamburg. Even today, the Foreign Office is refusing to release photographs taken of some of the "living skeletons" on their release.

Initially, most of the detainees were Nazi party members or former members of the SS, rounded up in an attempt to thwart any Nazi insurgency. A significant number, however, were industrialists, tobacco importers, oil company bosses or forestry owners who had flourished under Hitler.

By late 1946, the papers show, an increasing number were suspected Soviet agents. Some were NKVD officers - Russians, Czechs and Hungarians - but many were simply German leftists. Others were Germans living in the Russian zone who had crossed the line, offered to spy on the Russians, and were tortured to establish whether they were genuine defectors.

One of the men who was starved to death, Walter Bergmann, had offered to spy for the British, and fell under suspicion because he spoke Russian. Hayward reported: "There seems little doubt that Bergmann, against whom no charge of any crime has ever been made, but on the contrary, who appears to be a man who has given every assistance, and that of considerable value, has lost his life through malnutrition and lack of medical care".

The other man who starved to death, Franz Osterreicher, had been arrested with forged papers while attempting to enter the British zone in search of his gay lover. Hayward said that "in his struggle for existence or to get extra scraps of food he stood a very poor chance" at Bad Nenndorf.

Many of Bad Nenndorf's inmates were there for no reason at all. One, a former diplomat, remained locked up because he had "learned too much about our interrogation methods". Another arrived after a clerical error, and was incarcerated for eight months. As Inspector Hayward reported: "There are a number against whom no offence has been alleged, and the only authority for their detention would appear to be that they are citizens of a country still nominally at war with us."

Today, the older people of Bad Nenndorf talk about August 1 1945, the day the British arrived, with undisguised bitterness. A convoy of trucks pulled into the village, and the Tommies took over from an easygoing US infantry division. Within hours, the British had ordered everybody in the centre of the village to pack their belongings and leave. Bad Nenndorf was heaving with refugees from the bomb-ravaged ruins of Hanover, 18 miles to the east: hundreds of people were given 90 minutes to pack some food and valuables, and get out.

"We thought everyone would be allowed back in a few days," recalls Walter Münstermann, now a retired newspaperman, but then a 14-year-old. "Then the soldiers started putting barbed wire fences around the centre of the village, and slowly we began to realise that this was going to be no ordinary camp."

Walter and his neighbours realised that the centre of their village was being transformed into a prison camp when they heard that the British were converting a large, 40-year-old bath-house, ripping out the baths and installing heavy steel doors to turn each cubicle into a cell. They saw the first batch of prisoners arrive in the back of a truck. Later groups arrived at the village railway station in cattle trucks.

Ingrid Groth, then a seven-year-old, said locals claimed that if you crept up to the barbed wire at night, you could hear the prisoners' screams. Mr Münstermann, who passed the main gate on his way to school each day, insists that the opposite was true: that it was a sinister place precisely because "you never, ever saw anyone, and you never heard a sound". Among the people of Lower Saxony, Bad Nenndorf became known as das verbotene dorf - the forbidden village.

The commanding officer was Robin "Tin Eye" Stephens, 45, a monocled colonel of the Peshawar Division of the Indian Army who had been seconded to MI5 in 1939, and who had commanded Camp 020, a detention centre in Surrey where German spies had been interrogated during the war.


An authoritarian and a xenophobe with a legendary temper, Stephens boasted that interrogators who could "break" a man were born, and not made. Of the 20 interrogators ordered to break the inmates of Bad Nenndorf, 12 were British, a combination of officers from the three services and civilian linguists. The remaining eight included a Pole and a Dutchman, but were mostly German Jewish refugees who had enlisted on the outbreak of war, and who, Inspector Hayward suggested, "might not be expected to be wholly impartial".

Most of the warders were soldiers barely out of their teens. Some had endured more than a year of combat, at the end of which they had liberated Belsen. Some represented the more unruly elements of the British Army of the Rhine, sent to Bad Nenndorf after receiving suspended sentences for assault or desertion. Often, Hayward said, they were the sort of individuals "likely to resort to violence on helpless men".

The inmates were starved, woken during the night, and forced to walk up and down their cells from early morning until late at night. When moving about the prison they were expected to run, while soldiers kicked them. One warder, a soldier of the Welsh Regiment, told Hayward: "If a British soldier feels inclined to treat a prisoner decently he has every opportunity to do so; and he also has the opportunity to ill-treat a prisoner if he so desires".

The Foreign Office briefed Clement Attlee, the prime minister, that "the guards had apparently been instructed to carry out physical assaults on certain prisoners with the object of reducing them to a state of physical collapse and of making them more amenable to interrogation".

Former prisoners told Hayward that they had been whipped as well as beaten. This, the detective said, seemed unbelievable, until "our inquiries of warders and guards produced most unexpected corroboration". Threats to execute prisoners, or to arrest, torture and murder their wives and children were considered "perfectly proper", on the grounds that such threats were never carried out.

Moreover, any prisoner thought to be uncooperative during interrogation was taken to a punishment cell where they would be stripped and repeatedly doused in water. This punishment could continue for weeks, even in sub-zero temperatures.

Naked prisoners were handcuffed back-to-back and forced to stand before open windows in midwinter. Frostbite became common. One victim of the cold cell punishment was Buttlar, who swallowed the spoon handle to escape. An anti-Nazi, he had spent two years as a prisoner of the Gestapo. "I never in all those two years had undergone such treatments," he said.

Kalkowski, the NKVD officer, claimed that toenails were ripped out and that he had been hung from his wrists during interrogation, with weights tied to his legs. British NCOs, he alleged, would beat him with rubber truncheons "while the interrogating officers went for lunch". Hayward concluded, however, that "there was not a shred of evidence to support these allegations".

Whatever was happening during the interrogations must have been widely known among many of the camp's officers and men. In common with every CSDIC prison, each cell was bugged, so that the prisoners' private utterances could be matched against their "confessions".

Inspector Hayward's investigation led to the courts martial of Stephens, Captain John Smith, Bad Nenndorf's medical officer, and an interrogator, Lieutenant Richard Langham. The hearings were largely held behind closed doors. A number of sergeants - men who had carried out the beatings - were told they would be pardoned if they gave evidence against their officers.

Langham, who had been born in Munich and fled to England with his parents in 1934, at the age of 13, denied that he had mistreated prisoners and was acquitted. Charges of manslaughter against Smith were dropped but, after a court martial held entirely in secret, he was found guilty of the neglect of inmates and sentenced, at the age of 49, to be dismissed the service.

It is unclear whether any of Stephens's superiors knew, or condoned, what had happened at Bad Nenndorf, although his lawyers said they were prepared to spread the blame among senior army officers and Foreign Office officials. Before his court martial began there was nervous debate among ministers and government officials about how to avoid the repercussions which would follow, should the truth become known.

Ministers were anxious that nobody should learn that CSDIC was running a number of similar prisons in Germany. There was also what the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Frank Pakenham, later to become Lord Longford, described as "the fact that we are alleged to have treated internees in a manner reminiscent of the German concentration camps". The army, meanwhile, said it was determined the Soviets should not discover "how we apprehended and treated their agents", not least because some would-be defectors might have second thoughts.

Finally, there was the inevitable fall-out for Attlee's Labour government. As Hector McNeill, foreign minister, pointed out in a memo to Ernest Bevin, the foreign secretary: "I doubt if I can put too strongly the parliamentary consequences of publicity. Whenever we have any allegations to make about the political police methods in Eastern European states it will be enough to call out in the House 'Bad Nenndorf', and no reply is left to us."

Stephens was eventually court martialled behind closed doors. Amid complaints of a half-hearted prosecution, he was acquitted of two charges, two others were withdrawn, and he was free to apply to rejoin MI5.

In Bad Nenndorf, the remaining prisoners were shipped out, the wire ripped down, and the prison shut down. The baths were reinstalled in the cubicles and, gradually, the spa returned to its traditional business of catering for the health needs of elderly German tourists.

The closure of Bad Nenndorf was not the end of the story, however. The archives reveal that three months later a custom-built interrogation centre, with cells for 30 men and 10 women, was opened near to the British military base at Gütersloh. The inmates were to be suspected Soviet spies, and would be medically examined before interrogation.

When Frank Pakenham complained that most of the interrogators had been at Bad Nenndorf, and demanded that "drastic methods" should not be employed, Major-General Sir Brian Robertson, the military governor, put his foot down.

Why, he exclaimed, if the military authorities were required to justify the arrest of each inmate, and then handle them according to the standards "enforced by the prison commissioners in our own enlightened country", there was little point in having an interrogation centre at all.


Death subterfuge

One of the most bizarre episodes at Bad Nenndorf followed the death of a former SS officer called Abeling. He had been so severely beaten during his arrest in January 1947 that he was unconscious on arrival at the prison, and died shortly afterwards.

The camp's officers instructed a local gravedigger to prepare a grave for a British officer who had died of an infectious disease. Abeling's corpse was sewn into a blanket, lowered in, and covered with quicklime. A firing party was on hand to ensure that the dead man was buried with full British military honours, and a white wooden cross with a false name was erected over the grave.

The reasons for such subterfuge are made clear in declassified Foreign Office papers at the National Archives. Abeling, formerly a member of an "annihilation squad" in Warsaw, had been working as an agent for the Americans at the time of his death, spying on his old Nazi comrades under the codename Slim.

The report notes that the Americans "insisted that 'Slim's' death must be kept a very closely guarded secret, because of the fact that the US authorities had been employing him in the full knowledge that he was wanted by the Polish government as a major war criminal".

Today the wooden cross over Abeling's grave has been replaced with a gravestone. It still bears the name of the man that local people believe to be buried there: John X White, born 1.8.1911, died 17.1.1947.
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Old 05-01-09, 06:49 AM   #53
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
Yep. Bush mutilated the English language to the point of absurdity. Biden is making clear statements that later he has to backtrack on, or the administration has to 'clarify'. I think the fact that in a seemingly lighthearted thread about political gaffes, people getting worked up about 'hypocrisy' is hilarious in itself.
The hypocrisy is a little annoying though. When Obama said he's been to 57 states and has 1 to go, or talks about kids taking breathalizer tests for asthma, or says "uh" 2 or 3 times a sentence - no one makes a big deal about it. But people continue to hammer Bush about it.
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Old 05-01-09, 07:26 AM   #54
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

So has that WH translation of Biden's comments come through yet?
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Old 05-01-09, 08:43 AM   #55
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
So has that WH translation of Biden's comments come through yet?
Yes, they are sorry

Quote:
The White House apologized Thursday "if anybody was unduly alarmed" by Vice President Joe Biden's comments that seemed to suggest Americans should avoid air travel or confined spaces of any kind.

"What the vice president meant to say was the same thing that many members have said in the last few days," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "And that is, if you feel sick, are exhibiting flu-like symptoms….that you should take precautions, that you should limit your travel."
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/

Is the White House going to apologize everytime this chucklehead opens his mouth? Why not just hang him out to dry?

Or is the White House just going to provide translations everytime he bursts out with some ill conceived utterance?

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Old 05-01-09, 08:48 AM   #56
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

The WH press corps chuckled when the press secretary made by that lame excuse.
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Old 05-01-09, 10:41 AM   #57
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

I see the President is sending Biden to Bosnia. Or should we call that an 'exile.'
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Old 05-01-09, 10:43 AM   #58
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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I see the President is sending Biden to Bosnia. Or should we call that an 'exile.'
He will be out of the country until the Swine flu thing blows over.
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Old 05-01-09, 10:43 AM   #59
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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I see the President is sending Biden to Bosnia. Or should we call that an 'exile.'
Somebody should tell the president that a lot of Bosnians understand English.
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Old 05-01-09, 10:44 AM   #60
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

Looks like they just want to demonstrate that it's ok to go on a plane.
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Old 05-01-09, 10:46 AM   #61
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Looks like they just want to demonstrate that it's ok to go on a plane.
I just hope Joe doesn't try to open a window mid-flight to get some fresh air.
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Old 05-01-09, 10:57 AM   #62
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Looks like they just want to demonstrate that it's ok to go on a plane.
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Old 05-01-09, 11:37 AM   #63
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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He will be out of the country until the Swine flu thing blows over.
Unless he is carrying it to Bosnia
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Old 05-01-09, 07:03 PM   #64
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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The WH press corps chuckled when the press secretary made by that lame excuse.
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Old 05-01-09, 07:34 PM   #65
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

Gibbs tends to be pretty shameless in his spin.
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Old 05-01-09, 08:32 PM   #66
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Gibbs tends to be pretty shameless in his spin.
WH press secretaries have a tough job. They all have different styles of "squirming." Scott McClellan just repeats the same thing over and over again. I've not seen anyone do the Gibbs defense though: "Yeah that's what he said, but what he meant to say was..."

I liked Marlin Fitzwater and Mike McCurry.
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Old 05-01-09, 08:59 PM   #67
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Originally Posted by Brian Shannon View Post

That's a remake of a cartoon printed about 25 years ago that starred President Reagan. Instead of Looney Tune gags, staffers with horrified faces were leaping to stifle him. But the speech balloon was identical.

I've looked for it before, but I couldn't find it online.
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Old 05-02-09, 02:51 PM   #68
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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I see the President is sending Biden to Bosnia. Or should we call that an 'exile.'
I think that Mutt wanted to send Tailgunner Joe to Mexico to check out the epicenter of the outbreak but thought better of it at the last moment.

I imagine the Prez's doctors have to constantly monitor his blood pressure every time Joe speaks in public. I actually feel sorry for the President when Joe goes off half-cocked.

Too bad Arlen "Don't Call Me Phil" Spector wasn't available last Spring.
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Old 05-02-09, 03:00 PM   #69
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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i think that might be stretching it a bit
It's early.

Speaking of Biden, he is a personable fellow (as was mentioned). I admire him for his devotion to his family & taking care of his kids after his wife died.

Gaffes or not, I like Biden a whole lot more than "Pretty Boy" Edwards. We could have had a schmuck like him as V.P.

I don't dislike either Obama or Biden personally except for their liberal policies & their support for reprehensible procedures such as abortion.

Hard to listen to someone chastising a former administration for using 'aggressive interrogation techniques' on terrorist murderers while approving of dilation & extraction of a human being...especially when done at the demand of the child's mother.

Maybe if they could explain their views of the "hard science" they love to tout as guiding their policies, I would listen. Instead, we get "that's above my pay grade" as the best explanation used to justify establishing life-and-death policies (which will undoubtedly also come into play when choosing Souter's replacement).
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Old 05-02-09, 06:42 PM   #70
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

Acceptable interrogation techniques = abortions done in hospitals
Torture = abortions done in back alleys

I'd rather have the former.
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Old 05-03-09, 09:10 AM   #71
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Acceptable interrogation techniques = abortions done in hospitals
Torture = abortions done in back alleys

I'd rather have the former.
That explains a lot. Abortions, regardless of where they are done result in death. The harm inflicted on the interrogated is different between being tortured and acceptable interrogation techniques.
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Old 05-03-09, 06:02 PM   #72
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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That explains a lot.
Yeah it explains that this comparison between torture and abortion was silly in the first place.
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Old 05-03-09, 09:39 PM   #73
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

Mods, please change the thread title to "eXcentris presents:". Thanks!
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Old 05-04-09, 12:40 AM   #74
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

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Yeah it explains that this comparison between torture and abortion was silly in the first place.
I think I'll respond now that I THINK I understand what you were trying to say...although I'm still not sure.

The "comparison" is that regardless of how you feel about the morality or the effectiveness of using torture to obtain information, the most extreme cases used were against a handful of proven murderers. (Many of the other instances of "torture"...including sleep deprivation & "slaps" to the head...almost certainly do not rise to the level of what the average person would consider to be 'torture'). Also, the goal was to obtain information to prevent further mass murders. One can argue that the ends don't justify the means, but there is a considerable difference between attempting to gain critical intelligence from an "enemy combatant" who subscribes to no rules of warfare & 'torture' used for the amusement of prison guards. At least, I see a difference. Whether such techniques should be used is debatable--the analogy of whether opponents of such procedures would allow them to be used if they would save the lives of their own children is somewhat relevant (at least in determining under what circumstances people would change their attitudes toward the use of those techniques). The scene in the original "Dirty Harry" when Callahan stomps the injured leg of the rapist/murderer to obtain the location of the buried 12-year-old girl comes to mind. I know it's situation ethics, but it gives most people pause to think.

Likewise, there is a difference (in rationale, at least) in an extremely rare abortion performed to save the life of the mother (some doctors say this is never necessary these days) and the vast majority (probably 99%) of abortions that are performed as a means of birth control. I've never understood the "back alley" argument; of course one would prefer that morally acceptable medical procedures be done in hospitals by licensed physicians. That ignores the issue of whether terminating the life of one's own child should be a "right". If one thinks it's fine, one should argue that. If not, then it's like saying you would prefer that unwanted children be killed "mercifully" by doctors through lethal injections rather than having the mothers drown them in bathtubs. Most people do not have a lot of sympathy for mothers who kill their children (unless they find them insane...and even then, the outrage is still present). If one thinks that abortion is morally wrong, then it's hard to find sympathy for a mother who dies as a result of killing her own children because she finds them inconvenient, any more than one would sympathize with the mother who drives her car into the lake to drown her children yet gets trapped inside the car herself.

In the eyes of those who find killing children to be morally reprehensible, neither the "back alley" nor the clinic options are acceptable. We would prefer that the children be allowed to live in either case. That doesn't mean that we aren't concerned with the mothers (in fact, just the opposite...who wants to go on record as encouraging mothers to kill their children?); however, the mothers are in control of the situation. Therefore, the greater concern should be for the unprotected child who is at the mercy of his/her "mother" and the "abortion provider".
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Old 05-05-09, 03:23 PM   #75
crazyronin
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Re: Joe Biden presents: stupid political soundbites

Hope everyone is having a happy De Cinco de Cuatro day.

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