In Promoting “Pro-Life” Talking Points, Bill O’Reilly Smears Dr. Tiller, Kathleen Sebelius, and American Women
On Monday night's (April 27th) "Reality Check" segment, Bill O'Reilly continued his smear of Dr. Tiller and Kathleen Sebelius. But it really isn't surprising given that Fox News provides a forum for the talking points of the conservative Christian right wing and the number one issue for that group is abortion. Poor Bill just can't deal with the fact that Dr. Tiller continues to perform legal, late term abortions – despite Bill's ongoing incendiary rhetoric that includes the catch phrase "Tiller the baby killer" – which is, from a legal perspective, totally erroneous as Dr. Tiller was recently acquitted of performing illegal abortions. And despite Bill's last little smear of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, her nomination for Secretary of Health of Human Services was approved, yesterday, by the Senate in a 65 to 31 vote. But in smearing Tiller and Sebelius, O'Reilly also smeared women who, for whatever reasons, opt to have late term abortions.
O'Reilly wanted to let viewers know that Sebelius recently vetoed a bill restricting late term abortions in Kansas which, according to Bill, was introduced "because of the notorious 'Tiller the baby killer' where Dr. Tiller destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000." He added that Sebelius is "one of the most pro-abortion politicians." Like the Fox News "Grapevine," this little tid-bit provided maximum propaganda with minimum fact. If Bill were a responsible "journalist," he would have provided the salient detail that Sebelius felt that the bill contained provisions that might be unconstitutional, one of which would allow a woman or immediate relatives to sue an abortion provider suspected of violating the state abortions law. She stated that "The provisions in this bill that would allow for the criminal prosecution of a physician intending to comply with the law will lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women, even when it is necessary to preserve their lives and health. While I agree that we should try to reduce the number of abortions, it cannot be at the increased risk to the life or health of women." Ah, there's the rub, "intimidation" of health care providers – something near and dear to O'Reilly and his anti-choice zealots who want to create a climate in which fewer doctors perform abortions which would thus limit a woman's reproductive options. And intimidation does seem to be part of Bill's "journalism" playbook....(Click for remainder.)
One criticism of Arlen Specter I don't quite get, at least coming from liberals, is that his party switch reflects poorly on his character. Glenn Greenwald and Jon Chait, who don't actually agree on all that much, respectively call him "soul-less", and an "unprincipled hack".
Of course this is true, in so far as it goes. Specter has not been shifting to the left gradually over time, as one might expect from someone whose ideology was slowly "maturing". Rather, according to DW-NOMINATE data, he's actually moved slightly to the right in recent years, along with the rest of the Republican Party.
But if you're a Democrat, would you really want Arlen Specter to be anything other than a soulless, unprincipled hack? If Specter were more concerned about self-consistency -- and less about self-preservation -- he'd probably still be a Republican right now. Moreover, Democrats had better hope that Specter is as nakedly power-hungry as possible, because his best move from the standpoint of self-preservation is probably not merely to become a Democrat but to become a reasonably liberal one, along the lines of Bob Casey Jr.
There are, of course, two things you can do with a politician whose views you disagree with. The first thing is to elect him out of office; the second is to apply pressure -- whether moral, intellectual, political, or financial -- to get him to change those positions. In this case, the pressure placed upon Specter seems to have worked! True, we do not yet know exactly which positions he'll be changing along with his party label. He says he won't be changing his position on EFCA, for instance -- ironically, this is probably because he just flip-flopped that very issue last month. But the odds are very high that he'll be changing on at least some, reasonably important issues....(Click for remainder.)
By Jed Lewison
Daily Kos TV
Michelle Bachmann has said some dumb things, but this is truly impressive. As Eric Kleefeld points out:
1. There is no Hoot-Smalley. It’s Smoot-Hawley.
2. Smoot and Hawley were Republicans, not Democrats.
3. Herbert Hoover signed the legislation, not FDR.
4. Unemployment was already at 25% when FDR took office.
Crazy thing is, most wingers are thrilled to have Bachmann on their team.
The Daily Beast
The frenzy over Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to switch parties has only just begun. As usual whenever there is major political news, my email inbox explodes with reader reactions. One in particular stood out: “You are not a new face for the Republican Party. You are the problem with the Republican Party. If you'd like to be a feel-good liberal, there's a party for you. Do like Specter and stop wrecking the GOP. Your 15 minutes are about up.” (This was from Shawn in Oceanside, California.)
It’s one thing to say that about me, but it’s another to attack Sen. Specter—the longest-serving U.S. senator from Pennsylvania (he was first elected in 1980), and a man who has stood for some of the best elements of the Republican Party for decades. Granted, he has at times been a very vocal critic of conservative leaders and policies. But Specter has never shied away from putting the needs of his constituents first, nor has he ever been deterred from ruffling the feathers of some of the GOP's elite in order to do so.
For the record, less than 20 percent of my emails are negative in nature. But messages like the one I received from Shawn illustrate why Sen. Specter may have felt there was no more room for him in today's Republican Party. I certainly know the feeling. Being in the spotlight these last few months has been enlightening in so many ways. And I regularly hear from thousands of amazingly encouraging supporters, from 40-year-old mothers to 79-year-old retired Marine Corps veterans. But then there are the Shawns of the world. I don’t blame him personally for his opinion. It’s the unfortunate, still-unraveling mess left in the wake of “strategic” decisions made by conservative leaders over the last decade.
Which brings me back to the Specter incident, how it illustrates what’s wrong with the party, and why I so strongly believe that what people like me are saying matters....(Click for remainder.)
Sean Hannity, the white supremacist sympathizer, stuck up for those poor persecuted white people again on last night's (4/28/09) Hannity. In the Hannity's America segment, Hannity gloated about the "sweet" revenge soon to be wreaked on Janeane Garofalo for her "racist" comments about teabaggers. With video.
Hannity gleefully stated that Garofalo would get a "heavy dose" of sweet revenge when she appears at a comedy festival next week. Hannity didn't bother to hide his delight as he announced that "supporters" of the Boston tea party protests are planning to attend one of her performances "and they plan to give her a piece of their mind as a result of these disgraceful comments." For the zillionth time on Fox, I saw Garofalo say that the tea parties were "about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up."
I admit it's not a statement I'd make but it strikes me as a far sight less disgraceful than this statement by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson on Hannity & Colmes last summer: "Most blacks, not all but most in Tennessee, especially in the Memphis, Tennessee area, are still living in the 50's and 60's. They are so racist that they don't even realize that white Americans have moved on." Hannity not only didn't challenge that statement, he cut off the other guest who tried to respond.
Peterson has made lots of similar comments on the air with Hannity, including these comments about a prominent black minister in NYC who said, "Go to hell, white man" to Rudy Giuliani (the two have long since reconciled). Peterson said, "Had a white Republican said that about a black man, then they would be burning down the country… White Republican conservatives are not allowed to speak out. But because these people are black, people are black Democrats, they are allowed to get away with it."...(Click for remainder.)
By Scott Horton
Judge Jay Bybee has been conspicuously absent from the discussion about his most famous opinions—not the ones he issued from the bench, but those he uttered just before leaving the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Those opinions gave the green light to the use of a series of torture techniques on specific prisoners held by the CIA. But today, Jay Bybee has spoken. He responded to questions from the New York Times:
“The central question for lawyers was a narrow one; locate, under the statutory definition, the thin line between harsh treatment of a high-ranking Al Qaeda terrorist that is not torture and harsh treatment that is. I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct.”Count me among the unconvinced. First, I believe that one consideration is guiding Judge Bybee here: self-defense. He fully appreciates the threat of a criminal investigation and demands for his impeachment. He’s a sharp enough lawyer to appreciate that with respect to criminal conduct in connection with the issuance of an opinion, he has one pillar to which he can cling: the claim that the opinions expressed were formed in good faith, whether right or wrong. If he can’t sustain that proposition, he’s in deep trouble. Hence his statements to the Times. They are utterly predictable....(Click for remainder.)
Other administration lawyers agreed with those conclusions, Judge Bybee said. “The legal question was and is difficult,” he said. “And the stakes for the country were significant no matter what our opinion. In that context, we gave our best, honest advice, based on our good-faith analysis of the law.”
There is so much truth in this cartoon. Maybe the wingnuts on the extreme right, and the tinfoil hat crowd on the extreme left should keep this in mind.
By John Sherffius
Boulder Daily Camera
Campaign for America's Future
Grading a president after 100 days always strikes me as presumptuous. The only real grade is an incomplete. And as good teachers will tell you, letter grades—as opposed to written evaluations—are inherently arbitrary and misleading.
One thing is clear. If we're grading on a curve, Barack Obama ranks near the top, just below FDR. In changing course, getting bold things done, setting a tone, lifting our spirits and confidence, we haven't seen anything like this since Roosevelt. Even Reagan, the great communicator, had a much harder time in his early days, starting with the limousine gridlock of his inaugural. He had to get shot to move his agenda.
Rather than just grading the president, I suggest we might profitably assess our own 100 days. Obama has stormed the national and world stages in his first weeks. But how have we done—particularly the progressives who have such a large stake in the success of this president—in relation to Obama? He has demonstrated remarkable mastery of the powers of the presidency to lead the country. Have we mastered the power of the citizenry to empower the president?
There is sophisticated organizing being done in support of Obama's agenda. New organizations—most notably the 13-million person Obama for America—and old have joined together to mobilize citizens around the president's key initiatives. Major groups with large memberships—from unions to MoveOn, community and citizen action networks—have coordinated target lists, messaging and activities. Increasingly their attention is focused on herding Democrats, which will intensify as Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to switch jerseys makes Republicans even less relevant.
Similarly, on core issues—health care reform, new energy, college affordability, immigration, empowering workers—large independent efforts are underway. The unions and other progressive groups are taking on the corporate lobby over the Employee Free Choice Act. Health Care for America Now! leads a range of coalitions pushing health care reform. Environment and labor groups have been actively mobilizing around green jobs and new energy....(Click for remainder.)
By Michelle Cottle, Michael Crowley, Bradford Plumer, Noam Scheiber, and Jason Zengerle
The New Republic
The presidency isn't supposed to be easy--but the sheer tonnage of catastrophe that has been heaped on Barack Obama in his first 100 days is astounding. As Michael Crowley put it, "Two wars, economic collapse, and now a possible global pandemic. When do the locusts arrive?" Never, hopefully. But that doesn't mean that Obama's second 100 days will be any easier. Below, five TNR staffers--some cheekily, some not--speculate on what fresh hell awaits Obama as spring stretches into summer.
Michael Crowley--In an interview with "60 Minutes" last month, Obama called Iraq "the least of my problems." And, indeed, his first 100 days have been blessed by a relative calm there. But that may be changing. Yesterday's gruesome double car bombing, killing at least 41 people, was just the latest in a recent series of deadly attacks. Visiting Baghdad this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed the latest violence as "a signal that the rejectionists fear that Iraq is going in the right direction"--a phrase alarmingly reminiscent of Donald Rumsfeld's misguided talk of "dead-enders." In fact, the recent wave of suicide attacks suggest that the Iraqi security forces may not yet be prepared to protect the country without substantial American help. And they are a reminder that peace in Iraq, such as it is, is tenuous indeed. Mammoth disputes have yet to be resolved, such as the distribution of oil revenue and control of oil-rich Kirkuk--questions over which many Iraqis are more than willing to shed blood.
Obama has pledged to have all combat troops out of Iraq by the end of August 2010, and the Iraqi government has asked America to leave the country by then. But if the country should again slide towards anarchy, that plan might well change. Iraq could plead with Obama to stay, confronting him with a grueling choice. Although Obama pledged repeatedly as a candidate to "end the war," he did so at a time when Iraq seemed like a lost cause. Now that the past year or so has demonstrated that Iraq can be stable and secure, accepting a plunge back into chaos is a different proposition. (Recent experience has also undermined Obama's past argument that U.S. troops were a root cause of instability in the country.) However, if Obama is determined to prevent Afghanistan from collapsing, he'll need tens of thousands of troops relocated from Iraq. Given the size of the military, troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan are close to a zero-sum game.
Faced with this quandary--one of his own making, to be sure--George W. Bush concluded that stabilizing Iraq, with its natural resources and its strategic location, was a higher priority than stabilizing Afghanistan. Until recently it looked as though Obama could enjoy the inheritance of stability in Iraq and create it in Afghanistan. But in the months to come he may have to make the terrible choice anew....(Click for remainder.)
The Colorado Independent
A North Carolina Republican called the idea that Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard was murdered because he was gay “a hoax” in the debate currently under way on the floor of the House of Representatives over legislation to expand federal hate-crimes law to cover sexual orientation.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, speaking against the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, or the Matthew Shepard Act, called Shepard’s 1999 murder “a very unfortunate incident” committed during a robbery, despite the admission of Shepard’s killers that they lured him from a bar by pretending they were gay.
Here’s what Foxx said on the House floor:
“The hate crimes bill that’s called the Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay. This — the bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.”Media Matters posts the video of Foxx calling Shepard’s murder “a hoax”:
(Click for remainder.)
The Huffington Post
Today is President Obama's 100th day in office. Despite the flood of commentary this anniversary invites, the number means little because the world moves according to its own dynamic, unwedded to any calendar.
We should not forget that, although every new American president inherits headaches, President Obama inherited the entire emergency room. The list of perils includes the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes; hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; an ongoing confrontation with al Qaeda; rising nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran; a broken Middle East Peace Process; a potential flu pandemic; the lack of effective international policies on energy and climate change; and that scourge of the 21st century -- Barbary Pirates with cell phones.
The administration is called to meet these challenges despite a depleted treasury, an over-stretched military, an impatient American public, and a deeply divided world. Objectively, the president's job is impossible and certainly, success on many fronts will not be evident in the next one hundred or even the first one thousand days of his term. The fair question is whether, under his leadership, we have begun moving in the right direction.
The answer is yes. First, the president has assembled a strong and experienced national security team. Leaders such as Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton will not shy away from hard problems nor refrain from telling the president what he needs to know. Second, Mr. Obama has hit the right notes internationally by extending an open hand to every country, while showing that he is willing to maintain tough policies where required.
Third, he has made good use of his time -- sitting down with neighbors, touching base with allies, reaching out to potential adversaries, and assigning some of our nation's best diplomats to work on the globe's most complicated challenges. Fourth, he has taken steps to restore America's reputation as a leader on the environment and international law.
Finally, he has wisely avoided the trap of offering a bumper sticker slogan to characterize his approach to the world. Mr. Obama knows that success in foreign policy is usually relative, that few victories are permanent, and that lasting gains require a long term effort. In this context, a slogan can easily become a straitjacket, while the flexibility to approach each issue on its own terms is essential. Pragmatism is both a habit of mind and a strategic necessity....(Click for remainder.)
The Raw Story
President Barack Obama said unequivocally Wednesday that waterboarding is torture and violates American values, adding that ending the practice has strengthened the United States.
Asked during his “100th Day” news conference whether the Bush administration sanctioned torture, Obama said: “I believe that waterboarding was torture…That’s the opinion of many who have examined the topic.”
Obama did not say, and was not asked by reporters, whether Bush administration officials who approved so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques should be held accountable for allowing illegal actions.
He has tread carefully on the subject since ordering the release of four “torture memos” justifying the interrogation techniques earlier this month, saying that Attorney General Eric Holder would ultimately decide whether to prosecute former officials. Last week, Holder said that “no one is above the law” and that his department would “follow the evidence.”
At the Wednesday evening press conference, Obama said that the American people will eventually recognize that banning torture enhances the U.S. position worldwide. Obama said the prohibition takes away a recruitment tool for al-Qaida and puts the U.S. in a stronger position with allies.
The important point, he said, is not whether torture could yield valuable information from terror suspects, but whether that information could be obtained through other methods.
“We could have gotten this information in other ways,” he said. “In ways that are consistent with our values….In ways that were consistent with who we are.”...(Click for remainder.)
The Huffington Post
As car companies lined up in Washington, DC last November for the first round of federal bailout money - in San Francisco we announced another way - our comprehensive plan to make the San Francisco Bay Area the "Electric Vehicle (EV) Capital of the US."
Our efforts to advance electric vehicles are not limited to San Francisco. We've engaged the entire Bay Area - a region of 7.3 million people - to make our region the cornerstone of the coming market for EVs. Not just governments, but key companies, business associations, policy advocates, and international car and EV infrastructure companies are all working together to make the San Francisco Bay Area the EV Capital of the U.S.
Now our neighbors to the north, Portland are challenging us for EV supremacy. This type of competition symbolizes what is best about our region and our country. If we were able to put a man on the moon, we most certainly can create a new generation of cars that do not run on fossil fuels. We've done it before. I owned one of the EV1's from Saturn in the 1990s. Now EV companies are sprouting up all over the country from Fisker Automotive to Better Place to Bright Automotive.
Portland and San Francisco have been battling for the title of the most sustainable city for years. We welcome Portland's latest challenge and hope that this EV competition will spread across the country, creating thousands of new jobs and helping establish the United States as an EV leader. In turn this will transform our automotive industry and combat climate change by reducing green house gas emissions....(Click for remainder.)
The Financial Times
Congress on Wednesday passed a $3,400bn budget resolution that laid the foundation for healthcare reform and a series of other Democratic policy goals, handing President Barack Obama a key victory on his 100th day in office.
The plan sailed through the House and Senate with overwhelming Democratic support but not a single Republican backed the measure, highlighting deep partisan division over a budget that would sharply increase government spending and expand the national debt.
The budget resolution is a nonbinding blueprint and more tough debate remains ahead before the plan is fleshed out in final appropriations and taxation legislation over the summer.
But Wednesday’s votes demonstrated strong Democratic backing for most of Mr Obama’s budget proposals, including healthcare reform and investments in education and green energy.
”This budget was hugely important to the president. This is the starting point for everything he wants to do,” said Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
”For every one of his key priorities, reducing dependence on foreign energy, making possible healthcare reform, a focus on excellence in education, none of those things could have been pursued effectively without this budget.”
The House approved the resolution on a vote of 233-193, while the Senate voted 53-43.
In addition to every Republican, 17 House Democrats and four Senate Democrats voted against the budget plan, highlighting anxiety among party moderates over the ballooning budget deficit....(Click for remainder.)
The Colorado Independent
An impassioned U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey invoked the brutal murders of gay college student Matthew Shepard and transgender Greeley woman Angie Zapata in her remarks Wednesday afternoon supporting federal hate-crimes legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives.
“Matthew Shepard and Angie Zapata were two victims of hate crimes in my district,” the Fort Collins Democrat said during debate on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also called the Matthew Shepard Act. “I have a duty to their memory that I take seriously.”
The bill, which adds gender, sexual orientation and gender identity to federal hate-crime law, passed the House on a 249-175 vote and heads to the Senate. President Barack Obama has said he supports the legislation, which has been introduced in Congress regularly since Shepard’s murder in 1999.
Markey pointed out that Shepard died in Fort Collins and Zapata, whose killer was convicted on state hate-crime charges last week, was beaten to death in Greeley. The two cities are the population centers of the sprawling 4th Congressional District, which also covers most of eastern Colorado.
Here’s Markey’s speech:
(Click for remainder.)
President Obama met with the Chinese Foreign Minister today in the Oval Office. Prior to the meeting, the Foreign Minister met with National Security Advisor Jones and also met yesterday at the State Department with Secretary of State Clinton.
During today’s meeting, President Obama and Foreign Minister Yang discussed the overall state of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, emphasizing the desire of both sides to strengthen cooperation and build a positive and constructive U.S.-China relationship.
The two also discussed other important global issues, including the international financial crisis, North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the situation in Sudan. The President also stressed the importance of raising the level and frequency of the U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue in order to avoid future incidents. General Jones had also raised the recent incident in the South China Sea with the USNS Impeccable.
On the international financial crisis, the two agreed that China and the U.S. must work closely and urgently, as two of the world’s leading economies, to stabilize the global economy by stimulating demand at home and abroad, and get credit markets flowing. The President also emphasized the need to address global trade imbalances.
On human rights, the President noted that the promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of U.S. global foreign policy. The President expressed his hope there would be progress in the dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.
On North Korea, the President expressed appreciation for the important role China has played as the Chair of the Six-Party Talks. He said we will continue to work with China and other partners in the Six-Party process to verifiably eliminate North Korea’s nuclear program. The President also highlighted the risks posed by North Korea’s missile program.
On Darfur, President Obama expressed his deep concern about the unfolding humanitarian crisis and the Government of Sudan’s decision to expel major humanitarian organizations that had been providing lifesaving assistance to the people of Darfur.
By Melissa McEwan
In which the author imagines the first 100 days of a McCain presidency in an alternate universe.
Day 1: Having spent the nearly three months between election day and inauguration day being brought up to speed by Dick Cheney on effective concealment strategies for the Bush administration's plethoric dirty secrets and giving Vice President Sarah Palin a crash-course in introduction to government, President McCain does not hit the ground running. He is stunned to find out that the September suspension of his campaign did not magically solve the financial crisis and that the fundamentals of the economy are not strong.
Day 2: President McCain nominates the only Republican willing to accept the position as secretary of the Treasury, whose appointment is fast-tracked through Congress in light of the growing economic crisis.
Day 3: Treasury secretary Ron Paul promptly disbands the department of the Treasury.
Days 4-18: The stock markets crash, precipitating a run on the banks, which in turn hastens the financial collapse. Mass chaos erupts across the country. Vice President Palin blames the economic catastrophe on University of Illinois professor William Ayers and calls for his execution. Texas announces its secession from the union. Chuck Norris is elected president of Texistan.
Day 19: President McCain tries to restore order by giving a televised speech which will later become known as the "My Friends, We're Fucked" debacle.
Day 20: Dick Cheney shoots President McCain in the face.
Day 21: President McCain apologizes to Dick Cheney for all the trouble his being shot in the face has caused the former vice president....(Click for remainder.)
Edge New England
The New Hampshire state Senate’s vote today to legalize same-sex marriage. The Senate voted 13-11, on a second reading, in favor of an amended version of a bill that had passed the House last month by a 186-179 vote.
Since the Senate voted on an amended version, the bill will return to the House again, where it is expected to pass.
The Union-Leader, the state’s major newspaper, quoted Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Deborah Reynolds, who opposed the bill, as saying voters in her district favored it. She said the added wording "gives everyone in the state the right to seek a civil marriage ... This is a compromise that is respectful to both sides in this debate and meets our shared goals of equality in state laws for all the people of New Hampshire. The people of this sate share the core values of equality for all, tolerance and acceptance regardless of our differences."
The Senate Republicans voted as a block against it, but Sen. Matthew Houde expressed the view that younger voters have accepted gay marriage as a given. "This is not a question of ’if’ for me. It’s a question of ’when,’" Houde told the Union-Leader. "We should be eager to be on the right side of this issue."
New Hampshire already allowed civil unions. That took effect a year ago.
"Just one month ago, there were only two states where same-sex couples could marry," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese in a statement. "Now, with this vote in New Hampshire, we are on the verge of having five states that recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples. It’s been quite a month, and we look forward to more states joining this group."...(Click for remainder.)
Howard Stern issued a strong message of support for gay people on his show today, in only the way Howard can. I've edited out some of the dirty bits, but here is some of it:
"My feeling about gay people is that we have a responsibility not only to make gay marriage acceptable and to make gays feel accepted as much as heterosexuals...Gay people are downtrodden They are beaten. They are abused for their sexuality, and it goes across race. In the white community and the black community gay people are the bastards of the world. And in order for things to change, because any one of you could have gay children, or gay relatives, or gay friends...we have a responsibility to make this acceptable, to get all this bullshit so that some gay kid going to high school doesn't get the shit beaten out of him just because he's gay...I'm as heterosexual as they come. What is this hang-up about gay marriage? Who cares? Get on with your life!"(Click for original.)
Andrew Sullivan makes what I think is a definitive point in the barbaric "debate" over whether torture "works".
Think back to a time during World War II, when thousands of British citizens were dying a bloody death every day at the hands of the Axis powers. You can't get much closer to a "ticking time bomb" scenario than that, right?
So, what dastardly measures did Churchill's chief interrogator resort to, in the face of the imminent death of hundreds of thousands of his country's citizens?
Colonel Robin “Tin Eye” Stephens was the commander of the wartime spy prison and interrogation centre codenamed Camp 020, an ugly Victorian mansion surrounded by barbed wire on the edge of Ham Common. In the course of the war, some 500 enemy spies from 44 countries passed through Camp 020; most were interrogated, at some point, by Stephens; all but a tiny handful crumbled.(Click for remainder.)
Stephens was a bristling, xenophobic martinet; in appearance, with his glinting monocle and cigarette holder, he looked exactly like the caricature Gestapo interrogator who has “vays of making you talk”.
Stephens had ways of making anyone talk. In a top secret report, recently declassified by MI5 and now in the Public Records Office, he listed the tactics needed to break down a suspect: “A breaker is born and not made . . . pressure is attained by personality, tone, and rapidity of questions, a driving attack in the nature of a blast which will scare a man out of his wits.”