Saturday, May 26, 2007

Amnesty International makes teh Funny---Not

I saw this over at The Wall Street Journal and thought I would share it with y'all.

Imho the good folks at AI don't have a clue, and get their talking points from a T-1 direct link from the Netroots of BDS fame.

Yesterday we noted that Amnesty International, the anti-American outfit that styles itself a human-rights group, was holding an online poll asking "Who's got the worst human rights record?" The choices: Darth Vader, Hobgoblin and Dick Cheney. (The first two are villains from "Star Wars" and "Spider-Man" respectively; the third is vice president of the United States.)
Reader David Reed argues that Amnesty wanted Cheney to "win" this vote:
The Amnesty human rights poll seems doubly rigged against Cheney. First, a literal reading of the question requires the "Cheney" answer, because Vader and Hobgoblin directed their "crimes" against Wookiees, Alderaanians and Spider-Men, rather than humans. (And, although I have not yet seen "Spider-Man 3," I'll assume that the filmmakers did not actually gas any civilian human populations in the making of the flick.) Thus, even the mildest transgression against human rights by the Vice President (say, hurting Sen. Pat Leahy's feelings) makes him the correct answer.
The second way the poll is rigged is more telling. Other than Cheney, the contestants in the poll are fictional. Rather than putting Cheney up against real human rights violators such as Hitler, Pol Pot or even someone like John Kerry, who merely claimed--probably falsely--to have violated human rights in Vietnam, Amnesty compares him to movie characters. Here again, a literal reading of the question compels the Cheney answer if he has ever done anything at all to impinge upon a human's human rights. Nevertheless, it is telling that Amnesty couldn't think of a single human being to run in the poll against Cheney. In fact, it seems like a huge concession--that Amnesty couldn't come up with anybody with a human rights record so obviously worse than Cheney's so as to guarantee a Cheney win.
I never thought I'd see Amnesty asserting the moral equivalence of Mother Teresa and Dick Cheney. But that's one way to read it.
Despite all this, the last time we checked, Cheney was a distant third with 16% of the vote, far behind Hobgoblin and Vader. Apparently this wasn't the result Amnesty was looking for, because the group proceeded to pull the poll from its Web site, which now redirects to this announcement:
Thanks to everyone who took our poll!
We've gotten a terrific response. Thanks to everyone who shared it with their friends. Take action to restore the America you believe in »
And learn more about human rights abuses worldwide and what you can do to stop them »
So who won the poll, Amnesty International? They don't say. Like a military junta desperately clinging to power, they simply suppress the result of the vote. Human rights group our foot!
Some readers also noted that Amnesty had slandered Darth Vader. This is from Jeffrey Schallert:
Amnesty International is mistaken about Darth Vader. The war against the Wookiees was begun long before Anakin Skywalker had turned to the dark side of the Force, and it was Governor Tarkin who ordered the destruction of Alderaan; Vader just happened to be on the Death Star at the time, that's all.
Would I not be justified in wondering whether AI's accusations against the malevolent Dick Cheney are as sloppily researched as those against the Dark Lord of the Sith?
Adds Brian Gates:
Amnesty Internationale's poll is badly flawed. It should include Princess Leia, whose refusal to negotiate with the Empire was directly responsible for the deaths of millions on Alderaan.
Darth Vader, of course, was at one time a realist, seeking to "end . . . destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy" by stamping out all resistance. In the end, though, he decided to (literally) overthrow a totalitarian ruler at the cost of his own life. No wonder AI doesn't like him.
And Michael Goldberg adds:
I looked at Amnesty Internationale's stunning "Who's got the worst human rights record?" web page, and sent them an e-mail wondering if, say, Kim Jong-Il was a worse offender. When I checked out their commentary about North Korea's human rights record, I was somewhat amused to note that they referred to the secretary of state as "Condolence Rice."
It is interesting to see their view of who the bad guys are.
We've had some laughs at the expense of Amnesty International, but they are still taken seriously in some quarters, even if they have squandered some of their credibility with this juvenile stunt. Their attacks on America (and Israel) do have the potential to do serious damage by diverting attention from genuine human-rights violators. Never underestimate the dark side of the farce.
(Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to Tim Farrell, Mark Kellner, Kathleen Sullivan, Donald Weatherwax, Steve Prestegard, Bob Vorick, Andy Schlei, Daniel Foty, Joel Goldberg, Mike Stevens, Ed Lasky, Steve Biddle, Ray Giourard, Gregory Brunt, Rod Pennington, John Sanders, Michele Schiesser, Charlie Gaylord, Dennis Meyler, Todd Crampton, Anthony Gavan, Sean Parnell, Stephen Leonard, John Lobert, Neal West, Otir Bricker, Matthew Howard, Gerald Brown and Bill Jolly. If you have a tip, write us at, and please include the URL.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Turkey, should we be worried?

I have shamelessly lifted this from jerry Pournelle's site: CHAOS MANOR MUSINGS.

Jerry as many of you know, is a prolific SF author. He is also IMHO one of the worlds smartest persons, and entertaining as hell. For your edification, I suggest,You pop on over and visit.

The Crisis in Turkey
Turkey has long been an ally of the United States, and is the closest thing Israel has to an ally in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The current constitutional crisis has long-reaching implications in the current cultural wars.
Turkey is a curious land, a blend of a modern secular state integrated with a medieval fundamentalist Muslim nation. The secular-religious divisions are more important in Turkey than religious or even ethnic divisions.
Modern Turkey was created by Mustapha Kemal known as Kemal Ataturk, a general under the old monarchy who abolished the Sultanate, decreed a secular state, and became the founder of the modern nation. He outlawed Moslem dress including wearing the Fez (that odd hat that Shriners like) and burka, and set the Turkish Army as the protector of the constitution. The officer corps became a brotherhood devoted to that end, and Turkish enlisted personnel are educated to that belief. The army guards the constitution.
So far this is hardly new; Aristotle and Plato describe "rule of honor" which in practice is rule by the officer corps, and rule by military junta is common in history. It may start as protection of a constitution or a form of government, but the temptation to run things is great, and soon the military has its nose in everyone's affairs. Startlingly that has not happened in Turkey. Since Ataturk the Army has intervened in political affairs. It has hanged prime ministers and jailed corrupt politicians. It then retires to barracks and allows new politicians to govern. The result has been remarkably successful. Turks enjoy considerable freedoms and liberties that are unusual in neighboring countries.
The new rise of Islam did not neglect Turkey, and Islamists hold a majority of seats in the Turkish Parliament. This makes the Army nervous, but so far it has not interfered. Now, however, the Parliament wants to promote an Islamist to the Presidency. The President of Turkey is Chief of State, Commander in Chief of the Army, and holds the powers of veto and judicial appointment. He does not otherwise participate in government -- that is the business of the prime minister -- but the position is one key to the surprising development of the Army as protector of the constitution without constant interference in political affairs. That is what is at stake in the current constitutional crisis: will an Islamist become President? The Army is not going to let that happen. Alas, every time the Army must come out of barracks and interfere with government, there is a new temptation to do more: to actually govern. This is a powerful temptation, and one that must be resisted -- has been resisted since the days of Ataturk.
None of this is particularly new, and need not be an actual crisis, except that Turkey has applied for entry into the European Union. In my judgment that would be a terrible thing for both the EU and Turkey, but I quickly add that I haven't done a serious analysis, and I start with extreme prejudice against the bureaucratic state being created in Brussels by unelected civil "servants" who have become a new aristocracy that will soon be hereditary. (That is, bureaucrats send their children to the right schools, promote each other and each others children, and so forth: offices are not hereditary, but positions in the civil service might as well be; this always happens. Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy always prevails.)
Worse than importing a million pages of bureaucratic regulations -- I am not making that up -- would be the Jacobin notion that Turkey must get rid of the Army's interference in political affairs and cease to be the guardian of the secularist constitution. For reasons beyond my ken, the EU bureaucrats actually welcome the notion of including a non-secular -- i.e. an Islamist -- nation within the EU. The result of doing that is predictable.
The new President of France has indicated that he does not want Turkey in the EU -- a triumph of actual politics over the EU bureaucrats -- and that should have an effect. The Turkish Army, now aware that nothing it can do will gain it admission to the EU, is free to act according to the pact they have all sworn to themselves and the memory of Kemal Ataturk. I suspect it will now do so.


I was surfing around and came across this opinion column written by Ralph Peters.

Posted in the New York Post.

I agree.

May 11, 2007 -- IN his remarks at the Pentagon yesterday, President Bush stressed two things: The troop surge - which still isn't complete - must be given a chance, and the Democrats need to knock off the shenanigans and vote our troops the funding they need to fight.
On the second count, Congress is behaving disgracefully. Guess I'm a slow learner, but it took me until now to realize that when Pelosi, Reid & Co. chant "Support Our Troops!" they're talking about the enemy.
As for the president's first point, he's entirely right. With a fourth combat brigade just arriving and a fifth still on the way, Gen. David Petraeus doesn't yet have all the resources he's been promised. He's only got three wheels on the car and the critics are howling for him to hit the gas.
Frankly, this surge is a desperate measure after four years of blunders and dithering. It may prove too small and too late. But the stakes are so high that, despite the inevitable cost in American blood, this last gambit is worth the effort.
And it is the last gambit. If the troop surge fails, we'll start striking the tents.
Gen. Petraeus is well aware of all this. (I can't help feeling he winced when the president referred to this made-in-Washington strategy as "Gen. Petraeus' plan.") If any four-star general on active duty can make it work, it's him.
Unfortunately, that's faint praise. The Army hasn't fielded a four-star with the breadth of vision to wage war at the strategic level and the killer instinct to win on the battlefield since Gen. Barry McCaffrey retired a dozen years ago.
As the generals who led infantry platoons and companies in Vietnam fade from the ranks, we face an incongruous situation in which our lieutenants, captains and majors are combat veterans, while the generals above them never fought in a direct-fire engagement or led daily patrols through Indian country.
Junior officers now have a better grasp of what war means than Army generals do. Platoon leaders want to win. The generals want to make people happy.
For two generations, we've trained military leaders to be statesmen in uniform, downplaying pugnacity and guts. We sent promising officers for Ivy League doctorates (thereby cutting off at least one of their . . . um . . . eggs), stressed political assignments, and inducted them into the Washington-insider cult of Salvation Through Negotiations.
Now we have bobble-head generals who nod along with the diplomats who want to hold their Versailles Conference before winning the war.
It's past time for our senior leaders to jettison the political correctness and fight to win. But they honestly don't know how anymore. They've been so thoroughly drugged with failed academic theories about counterinsurgency-with-lollipops that they're more concerned with avoiding embarrassments than with killing the enemy.
The bitter truth is that, in the type of conflicts we now face, we must be willing to fight as ruthlessly and savagely as our opponents. We have to play by their moral rules. Stay-at-homes who never served will howl in indignation, but the alternative is defeat.
And is it ever more virtuous to lose to fanatics with apocalyptic visions than to win?
The standard response from the campus commandos is that, if we descend to the level of our enemy's behavior, we'll become as bad as them. That's crap. In World War II, we didn't exactly coddle the residents of Hamburg and Dresden, Tokyo and Hiroshima.
American soldiers can do what must be done without losing their virtues as citizens (most critics don't even know any soldiers personally).
The greater dangers may be that we've already sacrificed what hope there was for Iraq by waging war to please CNN and the pundits, and that we just don't have the numbers to make the surge work now.
We should all pray that this last-ditch effort succeeds. But we're paying for a decade-and-a-half of gutting our armed forces and sacrificing troop strength to pour money into the pockets of unscrupulous - and well-connected - defense contractors. Now soldiers die in sewage-flooded alleys while the billion-dollar bombers sit and rot.
And we're paying for ending the draft - not because the military wants it (it doesn't), but because we now have two generations of political leaders who don't have a clue what it takes to win a war. Not only haven't they served in uniform, they disdain those who enlist. (Think many soldiers get $400 haircuts like John Edwards?)
If anything, military service disqualifies you from having a voice on wartime strategy in Washington.
In a closed-door session with one of our last great legislators and a fellow military analyst, I was asked if I thought the "oil stain" strategy - the concept behind the current surge - could save Iraq. My answer was, "Yes, if you can put a half-million troops on the ground."
That was almost two years ago, before the situation had deteriorated so badly.
Gen. Petraeus may pull this off - if the let's-take-a-long-vacation Iraqis can get their act together. Should he do so, he'll deserve a place in the history books as one of the all-time greatest military turn-around artists: By historical standards, he'll have less than a third of the troops he needs, even after the surge is complete.
Whatever happens in Iraq, the core lesson isn't that such conflicts can't be won - that's nonsense - but that you can't win if you're more concerned about placating your critics than about defeating the enemy.
Our troops know how to fight. Their leaders don't.
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer.

If I had pursued my military career to retirement, I would have been eligible to retire in 1998
but I like to think that I would still be active in the fight. Possibly as a Warrant Officer in the maintenance or electronics field.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Glow Ball Warming

I fall on the skeptical side of the Issue and will post info to support my arguments.

If you don't know about Fred Singer's newsletter:
The Week That Was (May 12, 2007)–Brought to you by SEPP
The respected, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office tells the unpleasant facts about CO2 cap-and-trade schemes: higher energy costs and highly regressive (unless fixed), (ITEM #1). And current warming appears to be mostly natural! Green hypocrisy reigns supreme. Politicians of both parties talk “green” but are reluctant to act. Maybe they know that the public may profess “green” until it comes to making sacrifices. (ITEM #2)
German professor plugs for more GW and CO2. It’s good for us and for bio-diversity. (ITEM #3)
Another upbeat account of the Vatican climate conference. Sonja Boehmer-Christensen, editor of Energy & Environment, reports. (ITEM #4)
You can sign up at

CWCID Jerry Pournelle

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Climbing on the soap box


Well the time has finally come. Time that is to quit procrastinating and make this a reality.

Blogging, that is. Having only recently discovered (2005) the world of internet writers, some, amazing wordsmiths, some mediocre bloviators, I thought I would add my voice to the cacophony.

I will be way out of my league to be considered a wordsmith, so y'all are just going to have to settle for probably less than mediocre bloviating on subjects near to my heart.