Saturday, August 23, 2008

Response to "Blackadder" on the Atomic Bombings:
(Part II of II)

Part I of this response can be viewed here. But without further ado...

On the Atomic Bombings of Japan Part II

Today is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. On the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, I posted the first part of what was going to be a debate last year between myself and Shawn of the blog Rerum Novarum on the morality of the bombings. Prior to the debate, Shawn and I agreed that the atomic bombings would be justified only if two conditions were met:

1) the bombings did not involve the intentional targeting of noncombatants; and

2) the bombings saved lives, that is, any alternative course of action would have resulted in even greater loss of life.


Though this was covered in the previous posting, readers who for some reason have not read the first part of this thread yet are advised to do so now to see the importance of my distinction between civilians and non-combatants. (Again, credit to "Blackadder" for making this correction as he did when apprised of it.)

In my previous post, I argued that the first condition was not met.

And I countered with an explanation of why the first condition was sustained.

In this post, I argue that the second condition also was not met. Prior to the debate, Shawn had argued that the second condition, proportionality, had been met by the bombings, and had cited in support some figures on the high number of casualties (both American and Japanese) that could have resulted from a land invasion of Japan. I responded as follows:

As to the second condition, even if we assume that your figures on the likely deaths from an invasion are correct, this does not establish that the second condition is met, as it is not the case that the only two options the U.S. had at the time were to bomb Hiroshima or to invade.


There were three options actually but I will allow "Blackadder" to lay out his argument before saying more on this matter.

On this, a couple of points.

First, the Japanese were already prepared to surrender prior to the bombings. Once the Tojo government fell in July 1944, the Japanese strategy was to sue for peace once they had won one decisive battle so as to guarantee better terms.


While all of this sounds good on the surface, familiarizing oneself with some of the expected "terms" would help contextualize this strategy. But before dealing with that point, it helps the reader to remember something about the methods of the Japanese during the Second World War including the facade of the Japanese had played with regards to pretending to want peace before. After he left office, the former president Harry Truman in a several page letter to the chairman of the Hiroshima city council{1}, reminded that council of the duplicity of the Japanese government prior to the United States' entry into the Second World War:

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Your courteous letter, enclosing the resolution of the Hiroshima City Council, was highly appreciated. The feeling of the people of your city is easily understood, and I am not in any way offended by the resolution which their city council passed. However, it becomes necessary for me to remind the City Council, and perhaps you also, of some historical events.

In 1941, while a peace conference was in progress in Washington between representatives of the Emperor of Japan and the Secretary of State of the United States, representing the President and the Government of the United States, a naval expedition of the Japanese Government approached the Hawaiian Islands, a territorial part of the United States, and bombed our Pearl Harbor Naval Base. It was done without provocation, without warning and without a declaration of war. [President Harry S. Truman: Letter to the Chairman of the Hiroshima City Council (circa March 12, 1958)]


This was hardly the only example of duplicity on the part of the Japanese government during and prior to the Second World War. And this factor is of no small importance even if we exclude the Nanking Massacre and the Japanese genocide against the Chinese and numerous other peoples to the tune of millions and millions of deaths in the war of genuine civilians as well as brutal treatment of prisoners of war by the Japanese. The war crimes of the Japanese made it a genuine toss up as to which regime (theirs or Nazi Germany's) was worse: for the record I would put my marker on Imperial Japan as the estimate of their slaughter total{2} is roughly the same as that of Nazi Germany{3} but the survival rate of POW's in Nazi Germany was eight and a half times higher than the POW's of Imperial Japan. For these reasons, the Japanese could hardly be taken at face value on such things even if their position was as cut and dried as "Blackadder" presumes. (I will tend to that presumption later in this posting.)

Originally this victory was going to occur in the Philippines, then in Okinawa, then in Kyushu.

What "Blackadder" does not seem to realize is that the aforementioned "better terms" the Japanese wanted in no way whatsoever approached the American terms. I will go over this in a moment.

The problem was that by the early summer of 1945 the Japanese military was in shambles. They were short of fuel, food, and even weapons. An effective Allied blockade had cut Japan off from virtually all supplies, and the country had been reduced to using the iron fragments from U.S. bombs to make shovels. A report delivered to the Emperor on June 9, 1945 indicated that by the end of the year Japan would no longer be able to continue fighting and would face as great a threat from civil unrest as from the U.S. On June 22, 1945, the Emperor told the Supreme War Council “I desire that concrete plans to end the war, unhampered by existing policy, be speedily studied and that efforts made to implement them.”

However much the Emperor wanted to see an end to the war, there was still a rejection of surrender by anyone in a position to be able to affect one. Furthermore, those who claim that Japan merely wanted to hold onto the Emperor would do well to consider some of the information that the decision makers were privy to; namely the MAGIC transcripts from the period after the quote from Emperor Hirohito that "Blackadder" has presented to us:

Tokyo says no to unconditional surrender. On 17 July Foreign Minister Togo sent the following message to Ambassador Sato: "We have been fully aware from the outset that it would be difficult under existing circumstances either to strengthen the ties of friendship between Japan and Russia or to make effective use of Russia in ending the war... Although the directing powers, and the Government as well, are convinced that our strength can still deliver considerable blows to the enemy, we are unable to feel an absolutely secure peace of mind in the face of an enemy that will attack repeatedly. If today, when we are still maintaining our strength, the Anglo-Americans were to have regard for Japan's honor and existence, they could save humanity by bringing the war to an end. If, however, they insist unrelentingly upon unconditional surrender, the Japanese are unanimous in their resolve to wage a thorough-going war. [MAGIC Ultra Top Secret Intercept #1210 pgs. 1-3 (circa July 17, 1945)]

Now I realize this is the expected response of sorts: the idea that the Japanese would not accept "unconditional surrender." But notice what Ambassador Sato tries to do in his diplomatic role to try and facilitate in the next intercepted dispatch. With regards to the latter, the party speaking in the dispatch is Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo to Ambassador Naotake Sato but also includes both Togo's communique to Sato as well as Sato's request to Togo with regards to the issue of surrender. All underlined or italicized points of emphasis are mine:

With regards to unconditional surrender (I have been informed of your 18 July message*), we are unable to consent to it under any circumstances whatsoever. Even if the war drags on and it becomes clear it will take much more bloodshed, the entire country as one man will pit itself against the enemy in accordance with the Imperial Will so long as the enemy demands unconditional surrender...

Togo concluded by saying that he had read a long message of 20 July from Sato, but that the decision he was communicating had been made by the Cabinet and that Sato should proceed accordingly.

The long message of 20 July from Sato to which Togo was referring...constitutes an impassioned plea for the Japanese Government to surrender to the Allies with the sole reservation that Japan's "national structure" --i.e. ; the Imperial House-- be preserved... [MAGIC Ultra Top Secret Intercept #1214 pgs. 2-3; 4-5 (circa July 22, 1945)]

Here was the footnote at the bottom of page 2 of the intercept:

*In that message, Sato advocated unconditional surrender provided the Imperial House was preserved (DS 20 Jul 45).

In other words, what Sato was asking for was what those who opposed the use of the bombs often do: that if the Japanese merely were given their Emperor that they would accept that as a means of surrender. There is also the claim that we gave them what they wanted on this score anyway which is also not true but I want to avoid a tangent here before this point is reinforced.

Indeed not only did Togo tell Sato that his proposal --and the one commonly espoused by critics of the use of the bombs-- was a no-go but that Japan was "unable to consent to it under any circumstances whatsoever." This was the stance officially of Japan before the dropping of the bombs. Furthermore, that was not all that was considered "on the table" by the Japanese before agreeing to a policy of surrender.

I trust that "Blackadder" is not familiar with the ins and outs of the meeting of the Supreme War Council on August 9th about a half an hour before midnight-if he is not I will endeavour to inform him and other readers of it now. Even after the dropping of two atomic bombs and the declaration of war by the Soviet Union, the Council was deadlocked on whether to surrender or not. Among the demands being made were:

--The retention of the Emperor but also that the Emperor would have real sovereign authority.

--Retention of the military caste style of governance.

--That the issue of war criminals would be dealt with entirely by the Japanese government and not by the Allies.

--Japan was not to be occupied in the execution of the Potsdam Declaration terms.

Now these were the terms which were still being hashed out after the bomb drop on Hiroshima, the Soviets declared war on Japan, and the bomb drop on Nagasaki!!!

Certainly the Emperor on August 10th broke the deadlock and forced the hand of the Council in drafting the Imperial Rescript which the Emperor read aloud and was made into a recording.{4} But before that point, this was where the Supreme War Council was at on the subject of surrender. Even the aforementioned Foreign Minister Togo who rejected Ambassador Sato's recommendation of this course with one small provision{5} quickly changed his tune after the Hiroshima drop. He pleaded with the Supreme War Council for surrender in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration, something he previously said was "unacceptable under any circumstances whatsoever." This goes to show just how entrenched the notion of not surrendering was in the Japanese Government.

For those who would claim that the surrender was not in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration, the Emperor was retained but only with the understanding that supreme power would reside in the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. For those who are familiar with the intention of the Japanese of retaining the "Imperial House" they would know that this did not meet with their previous condition and indeed did not detract from the Potsdam Declaration of unconditional surrender. The evidence of this is that the Emperor had no power to act of his own accord during the Occupation of Japan. It is true that General MacArthur used the Emperor as his tool to get obedience from the subjects which was a shrewd usage on MacArthur's part but the lack of the Emperor to function as a sovereign with any of the authority as outlined by the Meiji Constitution{6} shows the extent to which the Japanese wish for retaining the "Imperial House" actually existed in reality as opposed to pious fiction.

Thereafter Japan made a number of attempts to sue for peace through intermediaries, including most prominently the Soviet Union. The U.S. knew about these attempts, as they had broken Japanese codes early in the war. Examples of some of these intercepts can be found here.

Readers can judge the credibility of these attempts based on what I have gone over already in this posting.

Truman and other top officials even seem to have thought that the attempts to sue for peace were real. The notes for an August 3, 1945, conversation between Truman, Secretary of State Byrnes, and Admiral Leahy (Truman’s Chief of Staff) states that “President, Leahy and JFB agreed Japan looking for peace. President afraid they will sue for peace through Russia instead of some country like Sweden.”

The last thing the world would have needed was "Uncle Joe" (cf. FDR) being in put into a position of moral credibility on the world stage. Stalin was a murderer of an even worse degree than Hitler. The difference between them was that Stalin was at least rational whereas Hitler was not.

As my late father (God rest his soul) used to tell me when I was very young, if Hitler was not so stupid as to invade Russia in 1941 we would have been fighting the Germans possibly into the early 1950's. And considering that we just got the Germans out of the way before they could roll out their new jet fighters to any significant effect,{7} it was the good fortune of the Allies that Hitler was not a rational military planner.

That Japan was willing to surrender prior to the atomic bombings is, in my opinion, indisputable.

Japan was also willing to discuss terms of peace prior to December 7, 1941 -as President Truman reminded the Hiroshima city council in 1958- and we know what came about from those "terms of peace."

The only question is whether they would have been willing to surrender on approximately the same terms that they eventually did, or whether they would have only accepted somewhat better terms. Personally I think that even if Japan only would have surrendered on significantly more favorable terms than they ultimately did, such a surrender would have been worth it just to keep Russia out of the war.

Readers can consider what I covered above as to what Japan was willing to consider. From purely a rational standpoint and apart from the evidence I supplied, it would be absurd to presume that they would have settled for less than this prior to August 6th when they were insisting on this with thirty minutes to go on August 9th before the start of August 10th.{8}

Without Russia’s entering the war in August of 1945, Manchuria and the northern half of Korea would not have fallen under Communist domination, Mao would not have had a base of operations from which to launch attacks against the Kuomintang, and it’s quite possible China would have been spared 30 or 40 million deaths, half of Korea would have been spared the hell on earth that is life in North Korea, and more than 36 thousand U.S. solders would not have had to die to protect South Korea a few years later.

On these contingent points, I agree with "Blackadder." Something he is not considering though is that by August of 1945, Truman had gotten over his initial phase of being duped by Stalin: something his predecessor FDR never got over.

Second, even supposing you think that Japan’s surrender had to be (virtually) unconditional for some reason. Still, the bombings were not necessary.

It depends I suppose on how "necessary" is defined. It was not "necessary" to go to war with Japan either in 1941 but we did. One has to assess with any action not only what is necessary but also what the results from non-action involves. I am not arguing for consequentialism{9} here, only stating that decisions are made oftentimes without focusing on what strictly speaking is "necessary." But just because something is not "necessary" does not mean it should not be done. One has to weigh a variety of factors on these matter as I said earlier including what would result in the fewest lives being lost to one's own side primarily and to the opposing side secondarily.

Once Russia entered the war, any hope Japan had of gaining more favorable terms was completely destroyed. They would now be facing threats from two fronts, and could not simply concentrate their forces in Kyushu in anticipation of an American attack. Over 600,000 Japanese solders in Manchuria were forced to surrender to the Soviets within a week of the Russian attack, despite being better trained and better equipped that most of the solders on the mainland.

Actually, the soldiers in Manchuria were far less trained and equipped than the soldiers on the mainland by that point of the war. This is admitted to in the Wikipedia article on the Soviet Invasion of Manchuria (all links removed and all emphasis in the quote is mine):

The Kwantung Army had over six hundred thousand men in twenty-five divisions (including two tank divisions) and six Independent Mixed Brigades. These contained over 1,215 armored vehicles (mostly armored cars and light tanks), 6,700 artillery pieces (mostly light), and 1,800 aircraft (mostly trainers and obsolete types; they only had 50 first line aircraft). The Imperial Japanese Navy contributed nothing to the defense of Manchuria, the occupation of which it had always opposed on strategic grounds.

On economic grounds, Manchuria was worth defending since it had the bulk of usable industry and raw materials outside of Japan and still under Japanese control in 1945. However, the Japanese forces were far below authorized strength, and most of their heavy military equipment and best military units had been transferred to the Pacific front over previous three years. As of 1945, the Japanese army in Manchuria contained a large number of raw recruits. As a result, the Kwantung Army had essentially been reduced to a light infantry counter-insurgency force with limited mobility and experience. In the event, Japanese forces were no match for the mechanized Red Army, with its vastly superior tanks, artillery, officers, experience and tactics. [Wikipedia: Excerpt from the Article Soviet Invasion of Manchuria]

Japan had moved their best military units and equipment to reinforce the Pacific effort over a period of time which had made the front in Manchuria very poorly defended. You can point to the 600,000 troops but mere numbers is deceptive because a significantly smaller core of higher quality troops with better equipment can do damage far in excess of their numbers. The Mexicans learned this in the mid nineteenth century when their 35,000 force of troops was decimated by the better trained and equipped army of General Zachery Taylor of whom then Lieutenant{10} Ulysses Grant would say (I paraphrase) "a finer army had never faced an enemy." They numbered roughly 2300 by the way which was less than 10% of the total of the Mexican regulars but as I do not want to get off on a tangent here, that is all I will say except to summarize the point of the analogy; namely, raw military numbers do not ipso facto constitute a competent or powerful military force.

The Soviets already had plans to invade Hokkaido prior to the planned U.S. invasion of November 1, 1945. Once Russia entered the war, then, Japan faced a choice between unconditional surrender and occupation by the U.S. and unconditional surrender and occupation by the Soviets. Given the Japanese fear of the Soviets, I have no doubt what they would have chosen.

This is speculation and besides, in the Imperial Rescript of Emperor Hirohito{11} the entry of the Soviets into the war was not even listed as the reason for their surrender. This is not to say that Hirohito and company would not have had reason for some concern of course but the latter had nowhere near the number of troops and munitions in the area that we did. The Soviets to use a baseball analogy had "crushed batting practice pitching" in Manchuria -nothing like what an invasion of the homeland would have gotten them if they had attempted it. And there is good reason to doubt that Stalin would have been interested enough to invest much manpower and treasure on Japan when he was busy sucking Eastern Europe into the Soviet orbit.

Finally, even if we assume, contrary to all this, that an atomic bombing was necessary, it still was not necessary to bomb cities full of civilians.

This is a rehashing of what was covered in part one which I have already responded to.

The U.S. could have used the bomb on purely military targets (such as the Japanese troops in Kyushu) or otherwise taken steps to minimize civilian deaths.

I have dealt already with the (doubtlessly unintentional in the case of "Blackadder") misleading application of the word "civilian" to the lions share of the population of those cities in the previous posting.

This was advocated by General Marshall, who said that “these [atomic] weapons might first be used against straight military objectives such as a large naval installation and then if no complete result was derived from the effect of that, he thought we ought to designate a number of large manufacturing areas from which the people would be warned to leave - telling the Japanese that we intended to destroy such centers.” See Memorandum of Conversation with General Marshall, May 29, 1945.

The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were warned of what was coming -both with the Potsdam Declaration but also with flyers telling them to evacuate their cities. The idea that the bombs would be "tested first" as if we had no shortage of stock was not feasible. And as I said in the first part of this response, I have on file what was delivered to Hiroshima. Though technically not necessary in justification of the use of the bomb there, it nonetheless is additional evidence against the view that the cities (particularly Hiroshima) were bombed without adequate warning.

The idea that the bombings were military unnecessary is not simply a piece of “ivory tower” revisionism, but was the view of some of the greatest military minds of the time, which are documented here.

I never said that the bombings were militarily necessary as in there were no other options and equated that with "ivory tower revisionism." But that point aside for a moment, I trust that "Blackadder" does not know that I have interacted with those proposed "experts" in detail in years past. There was also some disagreement on the use of the bombs due to agenda conflicts; namely some of them wanted their own branch of the service or some particular method of their own to be used. There is a lot more to it than one might casually presume which is all I will say on it for the present time.

Since the U.S. could have achieved the same outcome without the bombings as it did with them, the bombings cannot be said to have saved lives, and in fact represent needless loss of life on a grand scale.

If Japan had held out even until November 1, 1945, there were by estimates from some sources roughly 400,000 deaths that would occur per month by not only the Japanese people but also those who were under the yoke of the Japanese empire. Even the so-called "Strategic Bombing Survey" which itself was Air Force propaganda{12} opined that the Japanese might be able to hold out for the rest of the year. So if we pro-rate the death figure to account for a week of the month, that would mean between August 15th and November 1st, there would be a million deaths. The ending of the war just by those six weeks{13} -assuming for a moment that the Japanese would have even surrendered before that point which is controvertible at best{14} saved more lives than were lost in the use of the two atomic bombs.

The second condition is therefore not met either.

I do not see how based on what has been covered thus far that the second condition is not met; ergo that is all I will say on that matter for now except for a final word on the nature of the subject we are discussing here.

I would be remiss in not noting that this is a very gruesome subject matter to discuss as we are doing. But just as judges are supposed to leave their private opinions at the door when they enter the courtroom, we should act in like fashion in seeking to dialogue on these kinds of delicate issues to insure that we do proper justice to all sides involved. Thank you again for the civility of your treatment of this matter.

Notes:

{1} The letter from Truman was issued in response to a resolution the Hiroshima city council had passed protesting comments made by the former president on the use of the atomic bombs.

{2} The estimates I am aware of with the Japanese in this area is 30 million.

{3} The estimate I am aware of with the Germans in this area is also 30 million.

{4} A recording I might add which some fanatics who were still opposed to surrender at all costs tried to steal before it was played to the nation five days later.

{5} A point I covered in the above referenced MAGIC summaries from late July 1945.

{6} The Meiji Constitution was the primary document of Japanese governance at the time.

{7} Japan was also working on their own versions of a jet fighter in 1945 -the first prototype of which was flown on August 7, 1945 the day after Hiroshima was bombed. They were designed to be built quickly and on the cheap and would have been faster than any of the American planes which were all prop jobs at the time. How many of these they could have rolled out prior to November 1, 1945 (presuming Operation Downfall happened on schedule of course) we will never know but our planes would have been no match for them any more than the American planes were in Europe of the German jet fighters. (Again, Germany surrendered before those weapons or other ones which would have complicated matters for the Allied forces had time to have any significant effect.)

{8} Which was also five days before they actually surrendered in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration.

{9} I will explain the proper application of the concept of "consequentialism" apart from the countless misapplications I have observed in a future posting. (It was written months ago but this subject seems to make discussing those concepts timely; ergo I will do it shortly.)

{10} If memory serves at the moment, Grant had this rank during the Mexican War but I may be wrong on this point.

{11} A translation of the text of which can be read here.

{12} I do not intend to go into this point at the present time.

{13} And that is assuming the Japanese would have surrendered prior to the start of Operation Downfall of course: a proposition which itself is tenuous since there was so much uncertainty on a uniform proposal for surrender on the part of the Supreme War Council even after the bombs were dropped. Without them the likelihood of the Emperor forcing the Council's hand towards anything substantial in the area of a unified will (if we assess this based on the contents of the Imperial Rescript linked to in footnote eleven) would not have been probable.

{14} This has been touched on by logical extension in what was covered in just the present posting. Furthermore, by no means has all the evidence to sustain the controvertible nature of this proposition been dealt with either lest anyone wonder.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

On the Anniversary of This Weblog's Founding:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novrum)

It is interesting to think that this experiment debuted six years ago today. I had no idea when starting it where I was going to go with it. And though where it has gone has received greater crystallization in the span of over 2500 postings{1}; nonetheless, as with all projects, they take their own direction to some extent due to circumstances of time, events, and of course how one approaches those matters intellectually and otherwise.

For when one actually strives to muse on issues, follow "wherever the evidence leads"{2} and not regurgitate talking points memorandums of one particular agenda or another, it stands to reason that one will not look at things the same way as they get older and hopefully age with some measure of grace.{3}

Certainly this weblog has taken on a variety of approaches over the years and the current approach to blogging which was made official earlier this year{4} will remain intact and even undoubtedly tightened a bit further. But anniversaries are a time of looking at the past to some extent but also for looking forward. I do not have much time for archival digging now even if I wanted to so I will revisit some comments I made in passing last year after the project of thoroughly tagging all the posts in the archive was roughly 99% done. The latter project basically forced me to look into every posting in the archives, assess it, tag it in various ways, and ultimately to notice the various permutations which this weblog has undertaken during its existence. I commented on it at the time in the following words:

[W]e would be less than fully honest if we did not admit that there are some postings in the archive which we do not find to be of value anymore for a variety of reasons which we are not going to delve into at the moment[...] except to note one significant reason which went into this determination.

For you see, your host has refused to purge his archives of stuff which in retrospect he regrets posting. Part of the reason for this is principles as we have been critical of others for trying to airbrush the historical record at their own sites to avoid telling the truth about their past actions or statements in a given point of time. But another reason is that life itself is a process of growth and development across a broad continuum. This includes weblog writing and interests.

We have no problem admitting that it took a bit of time before this weblog really started to take a discernible shape and some of the features and/or principles which have become standard or typical over time were in the "finding their feet" stage early on. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 15, 2007)]

As for how long the "finding the feet stage" goes, things were certainly running with a more noticeable degree of smoothness at the tail end of 2002 and at the start of 2003 that was lacking in the first few months of this weblog's existence. However, in some respects, the entire first year was embryonic as I was barely touching on subjects I would subsequently cover with greater frequency in later years. I also over focused on subjects in that time frame which I was not as interested in discussing as the threads of that period may at times seem to indicate to the contrary.{5}

Nonetheless, I write what my mood dictates and that has been what I have always done and intend to always do -even if sometimes things are posted some time after they are either written or substantially drafted. Basically, my mood changes and the material that is covered changes but as a rule I think long range on these matters. For that reason, the focus is on timeless principles which have contemporary applications -something that has been the pattern of this weblog almost from the beginning.

This weblog weltanschauung means that when subjects of previous intention to discuss come around again in the natural cycle of things, my interest in the subjects of discussion can (and often does) resume. And at points like those, unfinished drafts started weeks or months earlier{6} are finally finished and posted to the weblog. A few such threads will be posted in this coming cycle which ends on September 21st for example -which ones they will be{7} depends on what I want to either complete for posting before then or post from completed drafts that have not been put on the weblog yet at a given point in time.

Anyway, those are some musings I have when reflecting briefly upon today's anniversary, where this weblog has been, and where it may well be going time-willing of course.

Notes:

{1} 2502 as of the posting prior to this one.

{2} To quote former atheist and current theist Antony Flew.

{3} No one can claim to approach issues in a purely abstract way and apart from personal mitigating factors in their apprehension of reality. This is why I have focused more and more on foundational presuppositions and less on the round and round kinds of arguments that go nowhere as I have gotten older and (hopefully) aged with some measure of grace. In a nutshell, someone who is not willing to reassess themselves in this area from time to time -to (in paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin) "doubt a bit of their own infallibility" makes themselves incapable of any potential progress as a human being. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 7, 2007)]

{4} [T]here will be for the indefinite future a change in blogging approach here at Rerum Novarum with the focus being first and foremost on what will facilitate the host's ability to live part of the year in warmer climates. This means that even with more time for blogging when we finish solidifying and streamlining life overall in accordance with Pareto's Principle, that the time for blogging will by necessity be reduced as well. For the rest of the year at least if not indeed for longer still, the postings here will be not much less in number[...] even if they are overall noticeably shorter in length: following an overall pattern that longtime readers may have noticed was happening bit by bit as the last two years (particularly 2007) unfolded anyway[...] -at least as a rule. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 11, 2008)]

{5} I have what in my mind are solid reasons for having done this though and it was certainly not what perhaps most who read those words may casually presume.

{6} And sometimes a year or more earlier.

{7} I went over some of them in a notifications blog post back on August 2nd which I remind readers of at this time.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Points to Ponder:
(On Nonsense Comments By Celebrities or Anyone Else For That Matter)

Because I can say I hate the war, but why should anybody listen to me? I'm not a politician. I didn't take classes in it. I didn't study this. I don't have any classified information. Who am I to say anything? I disagree with the war absolutely but I don't know what else there is to do. I can say yeah I think, I hope the world has peace, I pray Israel and Palestine will solve their problem. Do I think they should all stop fighting? That's a stupid thing to say. Because it's not going to happen. I have no solution for it. You get out of this war and then there's gonna be another problem. I could say I agree with the war but why do I agree with the war? I could say I disagree but why do I disagree? Don't just say because innocent people are dying. You're just stating the obvious. And I agree with the fact that you're going to go to war and why doesn't a forty year old middle aged man like Bush, for instance, go to war and not an innocent eighteen year old? I agree that this is a messed up place. But I'm not gonna go in the press and say 'America's making so many mistakes'. What does that say about what I believe? Nothing. It's me stating a comment based on no fact. [Mila Kunis]

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Points to Ponder:
(On Absolute Principles and the 2500th Posting to Rerum Novarum)

We cannot but be astonished at the ease with which men resign themselves to ignorance about what is most important for them to know; and we may be certain that they are determined to remain invincibly ignorant if they once come to consider it as axiomatic that there are no absolute principles. [Claude Frederic Bastiat]

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"NostraShawnus" Dept.

I have a way of being rather eerily accurate in overall prognosticating if we exclude sports predictions.{1} One such example pertaining to the recent war between Russia and Georgia was this offhand quip to a friend in a short chat back on August 12, 2008:

[W]atch for some loony leftist to claim that Putin and Russia invading Georgia was a Rove and Bush ploy to help out McCain.

Readers can notice the accuracy of this prediction by reviewing the following Times Online article from August 15, 2008:

Kremlin dusts off Cold War lexicon to make US villain in Georgia


The part of the article of particular interest for this posting is this:

Russians were told over breakfast yesterday what really happened in Georgia: the conflict in South Ossetia was part of a plot by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to stop Barack Obama being elected president of the United States.

So folks, do not underestimate your host's prognosticating capabilities even when he is being deliberately absurd. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging (to the extent there is a regular schedule of course of which there is not).

Note:

{1} Where despite some pretty substantial analyses of what my favourite teams need to do to succeed nonetheless with actual predictions I am invariably almost always wrong as this list of sports related blogs will more than adequately attest to.

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Miscellaneous Musings and Threads of Interest:

Some quick bon a couple stories from today's headlines so without further ado...

US, Poland OK missile defense base, riling Moscow

It would be advisable for the US to stand firm on this -particularly in light of the recent rumblings of the Russian Bear. I will have more to say on the latter in the coming days but for now I recommend perusing the above article if you have not already.

McCain Takes Lead Over Obama In Poll

By all rational accounts considering how the msm has fawned over this guy and given him three times as much coverage as Sen. McCain at times, he should be leading at this point in polling but it has until now been a dead heat within the margin of error.

This does not bode well for Sen. Obama -particularly since other polls have been general ones and this one is focused on an important element: likely voters. All the polls in the world do not help if those included are not likely to actually vote in November.

It seems that the more people see of Obama the less they are enthused about him and the saddleback forum{1} of which my friend Kevin Tierney said showed Sen. McCain looking particularly conservative and presidential compared to Sen. Obama who looked far less comfortable; ergo providing grist for the opinion that this is why Obama has resolutely refused to meet McCain in these kinds of forums up to the present time. It is still early and there is still ten weeks to go but that Obama does not have a lead by this point at least comparable to that of Carter in 1980 or Dukakis in 1988{2} does not bode well in an election year where the Republican brandname is not by all appearances selling very well.

Notes:

{1} On the accusation from leftists that Sen. McCain may have lifted a story from the works of the late Alexander Solzhentisyn, that charge has been refuted.

{2} Both of whom lost in the general elections of those years.

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