Backtalk, June 23, 2006

Why I Won’t Renew With Amnesty International

When Mr. Henderson wrote this –

“When government intervenes, the particular government officials making the decisions have very little of their own wealth on the line. They don’t get spectacularly rich if they make a good decision or spectacularly poor if they make a bad one. Therefore, they have little incentive to make good decisions. In fact, perversely, they may get even wealthier by making bad decisions.”

– I thought he might have been speaking about any of the already fabulously wealthy CEOs who have mismanaged huge corporations, then collected golden-parachute rewards on their way out of the ruins left behind them.

Are you sure it’s a problem with government?

~ Daniel Raphael, University Place, Washington

David Henderson replies:

Yes. As for corporations, executive pay is correlated with the performance of the firm. You can find exceptions, but the correlation is, I believe, very highly positive.

Have you read what you said?


“Had Mr. Cox asked his members to write letters to various oppressive governments, or even to give money to a private militia to go over and go after bad guys in Darfur, I would have had no trouble and might have even sent a check.”


“I wish that AI would stick to advocating peaceful rather than coercive solutions.”

You cannot have it both ways Mr. Henderson. This is defined as “hypocrisy.”

~ Michael FitzPatrick

David R. Henderson replies:

Touché. But it’s not hypocrisy; it’s just plain carelessness on my part. So let me be more careful. I think the odds that Amnesty International will ever advocate coercive, but purely defensive, solutions that don’t involve government are slim to none. Given that, I want them to stick to advocating peaceful solutions. I would prefer that some other private organization come along to raise money to fund private militias. But, of course, the U.S. government has long prevented that. Thank you for reading my article so carefully.

Poll: Majority Wants Iraq Pullout Date Set

CNN reports, “Poll: Majority wants Iraq pullout date set.” OK, that’s certainly good to know.

But – for “balance,” we suppose – the article goes on to tell us that killing Zarqawi has bumped up Dubya’s approval rating for “handling” the war.

And since CNN, like our politicians, doesn’t want to emphasize popular disgust with the entire venture and its architects, you have to go to to find out that the CNN article forgot to mention some other important results from the poll. For example:

(1) With Zarqawi now dead, the percentage who say the Iraq war is going moderately or very badly is UP a point – to 54 percent – while the number who say the Iraq war is going very or moderately well is DOWN two points – to 41 percent. The percentage who say the war is going “very badly” is up three points, to 26 percent.

(2) The percentage of Americans who say the Iraq war was “a mistake” is still a solid majority, down by only one percentage point, to 54 percent.

(3) In answer to CNN’s brand new question – the refreshingly simple, “Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war with Iraq?” – the nays have it, 54 percent to 38 percent.

~ Mark Williams


Why is your organization not publicly and with equal vigor condemning the terrorists’ torture murder today of two American soldiers, as you would so quickly criticize the Bush administration were it the other way around, such as with the Haditha incident?

~ James Keeney

Jeremy Sapienza replies:

Those massacred at Haditha were civilians. The two Americans killed were combatants. If you don’t know or care what the difference between these two classifications of people in a war zone is, you should remove yourself from the debate because ignorance such as yours is keeping us from having valid arguments.

Whenever I see or read attacks on people like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Obama, or, it prompts me to think that the neocons, cunning as they are, have infiltrated the organization in question.

The most extensive and desperate attack made by these “so-called” progressive organizations are almost always reserved for the progressives who are most likely to assume positions and authority to make positive changes in the political and commercial and moral behavior of this country and that of other foreign countries.

I can tell you after 142 years of internal bickering and backbiting within the Afro-American civil rights movement that these activities are almost always more counterproductive than the worst actions taken by our true mortal enemies, the Ku Klux Klan, W.A.R., and other white supremacist groups.

As a consequence, Afro-American high school and college male graduation rates are actually decreasing. Illegitimate births have more than doubled within our community in the last 40+ years. And our political power is hopelessly diffused and self-negating because of polarizing issues such as homosexuality and abortion.

The world cannot survive if we fall prey to the same (neocon-funded and provoked) internecine battling. The FBI was proven to attempt, somewhat successfully, the same tactics to minimize the effectiveness of the civil rights movement from the early ’50s well into the present (the Reverend T.D. Jakes, anyone?).

My advice and heartfelt plea is for all of us to:

  • Find the common ground.
  • Be supportive of essentially like-minded organizations and candidates.

Once we have amassed a useful level of control over the moral, military, and political wars, and begun to make the most urgent lifesaving changes, then we will have the time and resources to do the necessary “purification.”

Many of those destructively strident liberals of the sixties now work in responsible executive positions in the boardrooms and committees of the most virulent neoconservative organizations (political, commercial, and evangelical).

To do otherwise is simply to subvert the tremendous promise of the progressive movement better than the neoconservatives ever could, and cause the swift, horrible death of the world as we know it.

~ Louis A. Spain Jr.

Eric Garris replies:

Clinton, Obama, Kerry: all are explicitly pro-war. The fact that they think the war should be fought differently doesn’t make them better. In fact, in some ways, it makes them worse. The Iraq war was illegal, immoral, and counterproductive, regardless of how many bullies joined in on the gang-up. These politicians think that somehow having more join in on the immorality makes it okay. They are as evil as any other warmongers. is another matter; it has revealed itself to be just a way to subvert real antiwar activists into the Democratic Party, which is planning another self-destructive plunge by avoiding the key issue of the war.

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