Saturday, August 19, 2017

My latest contribution to the Jaded Politics project courtesy of the Musings From Exile weblog{1} can be read HERE.


{1} "I link to the Musings From Exile weblog version so I do not trigger a trackback to it on the main page; thereby ensuring that I keep Rerum Novarum separate from that project." [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa April 8, 2017)]

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Commemorating A Controversial Anniversary:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Maybe in retrospect, I should have seen it coming but twelve years ago at this time, I posted the first of what would ultimately be forty threads on the subject of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the use of atomic bombs there back in 1945. (On what was then the sixtieth anniversary year of those events.) What had motivated this decision were many factors but in a nutshell: I had grown tired of seeing the same very lame purported arguments wielded by those who engaged in public moaning about these matters. I therefore decided to write on this subject intending to explain it all to a certain degree. The locus was the profound problems I had with ivory tower revisionist pontificators{2} on this matter -both of the academic as well as the ecclesial variety.{3} I took issue not only with the revisionist matter and its inherent problems but I also sought to explain the military and statistical calculations as well as the moral and ethical aspects of the subject matter in question.{4} Little did I realize in the process the volume of material that would issue forth from these fingertips nor the vitriol that would precipitate -particularly from some of the parties eventually involved.

It seems appropriate at this time to commemorate this rather controversial anniversary, highlight some of what developed from it, and perhaps to serve as a lesson of sorts of the sorts of unintended consequences that can develop from seemingly innocuous actions. Having reiterated anew all the threads in this series from August 17, 2005 through August 23, 2008 in a recent weblog posting, I do not intend to go over those materials again at this time. Nor do I plan to open up any fresh threads on this subject except a small bit I will touch on below which made up one of a series of social media postings whereby I was drawn into discussing these matters publicly in something approaching more than a fleeting bit for the first time in about nine years.{5} I will also replace with the term Name Withheld any personal names in prior sources referenced because what is important here as always with me is the principles enunciated, not the persons involved. Without any further ado, let us get to the meat of these musings now.

After the aforementioned recent social media flareups and my being drawn into them, the idea came to me to consider returning to a kind of metaphorical ground zero on the issue in question and to take some time in reflecting on various and sundry events that happened in this experience. To start with, trust was eventually violated and numerous friendships were inexorably broken. I realized quickly once feedback on the original posting began coming in that this issue was much bigger than it would casually appear and that the emotional component for so many folks was a blinder they had on. As a result, their objectivity in approaching this issue more so than many others of a similar degree of complexity was obscured. I cannot say I was fully blindsided as I did in posting a thread on normative and non-normative argumentation days before the August 17th posting do so because I anticipated the sorts of responses I would likely get from many quarters. It was less the kinds of arguments I would get than the volume and degree of the vitriol that would come my way as a result of said posting. After wading through and dispatching with legions of argumentation fallacies from many folks{6}, I saw with even greater clarity than I had previously just how rationally bankrupt the apologetics oligarchy was whenever its practicioners ventured outside of boilerplate issues.{7}

Indeed apart from the latter, whenever such folks sought to cobble together purported rationales for their ingrained confirmation bias on peripheral issues, they inexorably made a rational mess of things to their own discredit. I remember during a private correspondence thread where there were several participants becoming white hot livid when private correspondence was breached by one of those I was behind the scenes seeking to dialogue with and at that point, a switch flipped and with the person in question, my usual diplomatic niceties melted like a snowball on the sun. From that point on, invective became far more piercing and the goal became one of vanquishment beyond my actual arguments.{8} Looking back more than a decade, I view it as a mistake allowing myself to be affected as I was.

In essence and these preserved archives supply reams of evidence to substantiate me{9}, I have high expectations of those I converse/dialogue with. For example, I expect them to evince a certain predisposition in approaching subjects of discussion. I expect the most basic degree of respect and courtesy.{10} I also expect them to know something of what they speak{11} and to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the discipline of the dialogue.{12} These expectations were so often not met but it was not because of a lack of effort on my part.

For example, after labourious efforts to facilitate a proper dialogue on the atomic bombing subject and finally succeeding in the process{13}, years later in the interest of facilitating some sort of rapproachment with a party I shall not mention, I quietly and without fanfare undertook an unprecedented project whereby I whitewashed four postings of my archives. I had many reasons for deciding to do this and only two which were opposed to it: namely, the time it would take to do it and the fact that I hate historical revisionism of any kind. But in the interest of once again facilitating an environment for if not dialogue than at least somewhat amicable rapproachment, I reread all my previous postings on this subject{14} and discerned where things really began spiraling out of control in the invective department. There were four postings in particular from January 2006August 2006August 2006, and September 2006 which were by these eyes and in retrospect atrocious affairs insofar as the arguments made had taken on far more invective than could be justified objectively speaking{15} to the extent that sort of thing ever can of course.{16} With this in mind, I enlisted a third party who had no involvement in the prior interactions to review those threads and suggest areas where improvement could be made.{17} Once they had done that, I thoroughly revised the aforementioned postings, republished them, and appended to the end of each the following update:

[Update: It was recently pointed out to me by a few people that the tonality of this posting detracted from the substance of the points I was making. I do not deny that I was in an irritable mood when I drafted it and my mood was hardly unjustified. However, that does not mean that the manner whereby I responded is automatically appropriate or without deficiency in prudence. So with that in mind, I decided to revisit this posting from 2006 where invective so suffused the arguments I made as to render them far less persuasive to casual readers than they otherwise could have been.

To potentially render this enterprise more fruitful, I asked someone to act as a third party editor of sorts to review the postings and make suggestions of areas to be revised and others to be removed. (This person had no part whatsoever in the original controversy and to my knowledge is on good terms with all parties involved.) They agreed to review this post and made a number of suggested corrections. In every suggestion they made, I promptly made revisions where recommended and removed material that was recommended to be removed and resubmitted the proposed adjustments to them for follow-up critique, etc. This process continued until areas originally found problematical were adjusted to their satisfaction at which time I made the adjustments to the posting itself and republished it.

The revised posting before you is far more focused on my original arguments and hopefully provides much more light than heat unlike what was written previously. And though I stand by the substance of my original critiques, I do nonetheless profoundly regret letting my anger get the better of me in how I originally responded to [Name Withheld] in this post and extend to him through this effort as well as in words a most sincere apology. -SM 10/2/13]

Ultimately as the party this was addressed to showed they were either unwilling or incapable of separating the core of actual argument from the adornment of its mode of expression{18}, nothing came out of it but at the very least, it served to show the degree to which I will go to see a potentially fruitful dialogue emerge -or a previously detonated bridge be possibly reconstituted.

There has in summary been no small degree of controversy on the issue in question. Before I wrap up this look down memory lane of sorts, I want to include something I wrote after recently being drawn back into the atomic bomb subject for the first time in a long time. I remember touching ever so briefly on this matter in years past{19} but decided to actually flesh it out a tad bit more since a friend recently raised anew the issue of General Dwight D. Eisenhower being an expert on the issue of the atomic bomb and his stated view that it was unnecessary in a book he wrote after leaving the presidency. Without further ado...

As I pointed out years ago[...], General Eisenhower was not in the position to know everything on these matters that Truman and his cabinet were for a variety of reasons. (Its too detailed to go over in a combox.)

Furthermore, President Truman's Secretary of War Henry Stimson kept a pretty up to date tally on those officials regarding the use of the atomic bombs taking particular care to highlight those who dissented from what the president discussed doing. Stimpson's diary mentions meetings with General Eisenhower twice in the weeks before Hiroshima without any mention of a dissenting Eisenhower statement. This is pretty significant because Stimson’s diaries are quite detailed on atomic matters and a dissent from not only a five star general of the United States Army but also the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe would surely have not been overlooked.

What the evidence we have to go off of pre-Hiroshima points to is no noted objection by General Eisenhower at the time. Now he did have issues with it later on but it would appear that he engaged in a lot of postwar second guessing on these matters after the fact.

Presenting that material to add to the Ike debunking in prior years{20} is all I intend to do insofar as any new material on these matters is concerned at present. And with that, I will conclude the remembrance of this controversial anniversary in these words whereby I put an end to the most significant of the controversial public arguments on this matter many moons ago and take my leave on these matters for the indefinite future:

It is never easy for someone whose public performance was so wanting in substance ala what happened with [Name Withheld] last year to deal with what transpired. Furthermore, the longer [they continue] trying to explain away what happened, it will only be tougher still for them to look at these matters with any sense of objectivity. But at some point it is repeating oneself so while I will not say these subjects will never be touched on again, lets say that after I post a long-planned dip into the email mailbag tomorrow (which will be updated to reflect the current situation a bit), I do not foresee saying anything in the immediate future about this unfortunate saga again. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 21, 2006)]

All things to the contrary notwithstanding.


{1} To reference two such postings of the time:

Though I will deal with them in detail later on in this multipart thread, I will give a brief prelude to them by noting for the reader at this time that the veracity of the citations posited by Doug Long (and uncritically parroted by [Name Withheld]) will therefore be a primary purpose of the thread following this one. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 6, 2005)]

And again:

As I have pointed out in not a few threads, the presumption that the Japanese were ready to surrender was an erroneous notion. Furthermore, as I noted in dealing with the MacArthur quotes, the MAGIC cables do not appear to be anything that General Eisenhower knew anything about. He may have known about Venona at the time due to his status as Supreme Commander in Europe but Venona was Soviet-focused and had nothing to do with what happened in the Pacific arena. Indeed, by the time he would have learned about these things as president, he would not have had time to go back and review stuff from 1945 as he had a country to run by that point after all. And (of course) in 1963 he was out of the loop completely and could not have accessed them even if he was inclined to. The following observations from the aforementioned internet interlocutor “Hiroshima_facts” are also of interest on these issues:

Funny how Stimson, who always recorded dissent from officials regarding the bombs, failed to record anything about Ike.

Even funnier how Ike's own early depictions of the encounter claimed that he did not voice any vehement objection.
 [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 6, 2005)]

{2} This wording actually involves some of the title of the first article posted in this series:

On Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications (circa August 17, 2005)

{3} I decided to address this indirectly at the time. Unfortunately, subsequent developments made it necessary to take a more explicit approach to this facet of the equation.

{4} This wording is nearly verbatim to some of the title of the first recapitulation thread I posted on this subject:

Threads on the Atomic Bomb Droppings, Military and Statistical Calculations, the Moral and Ethical Aspects of the Subject Matter in Question, Etc... (circa August 28, 2005)

{5} Now without further ado, here is a recapitulation thread of all postings I can think of culled from past such threads and added to this year with the stuff from 2008 and some of the threads from 2007 which will be listed by year (starting with the oldest threads). This posting will stand in perpetuity as all I intend to say on this subject in 2009 and perhaps in the years to follow.

All things to the contrary notwithstanding. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 9, 2009)]

{6} A number of which I once believed should have known better.

{7} I can pretty clearly remember when my general disdain for apologetics began growing at a discernible rate -it was back in early 2004 when significant life events continued their compounding and served to focus my mind more firmly on the general absurdity of so much of it and the sorts of unsavoury characters involved in it.

{8} The substance of which I might add was never even close to remotely refuted.

{9} If you doubt me, check any thread of this weblog in the Internet Archive and you will see exactly what I mean.

{10} One can only deal with that sort of thing for so long and then one can lose their temper (mea culpa!!!). I suffer from exalted ideals in some sense it seems because I expect a lot more from friends than what [Name Withheld] has cared to show and my publicly manifested anger (whatever its merits or demerits, rightful application or overly excessive applications thereof) was because he fell so far short of what I expected from him. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 16, 2006)]

{11} [M]y friend, with all due respect, you are not engaging in dialogue on this subject yet. Instead, you are merely making assertions and stating names of people who agree with you. That is a fallacious approach to argumentation of no small import. Indeed, I have discussed the argumentation fallacies involved here not a few times including in two weblog postings -the first of which was posted in August of 2004 and the second in May of 2005.[...] With both postings, I pointed out five principles that needed to be taken into account for valid argumentation if seeking to argue from authority -three of which were as follows:

--On topics which are of a controverted nature (or where there are disagreements among recognized experts), it is fallacious to accept the opinion of an authority.

--In areas where there is disagreement among recognized experts, individuals then have to turn to various sources. However, whatever the sources turned to, the purpose cannot be for conclusions or opinions of said authority.

--Appeals to any presumable "authoritative" source should take into account (to the extent this is possible) the trackrecord of accuracy of the source being utilized. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 14, 2005)]

It cannot be denied that the subject we are discussing is one where there are disagreements from recognized experts on the matter...we can surely agree on that as it is a well established fact beyond debate. For that reason, it does not suffice to merely posit the opinions of experts whomever they are. You have thus far done this a lot and have not interacted with my actual arguments or the threads from our mutual friends [Name Withheld],[...], and also the points noted by my very good friend [Name Withheld].[...] It is not a matter of merely disagreeing with us my friend, there must be posited viable arguments by you in return...

Dialogue must involve some form of interaction and exchange of viewpoints. Thus far this has been a monologue of sorts between you and I.[...] I say this because posting names of people who disagree with me and [Name Withheld] -and not considering the sitz im leben in the process- along with posting pictures to try and draw on the emotions of readers is not achieving that. In your other use of sources, you are heavily positing conclusions of others but conclusions and opinions are not what should be our concern here. It is the arguments advanced by said parties that is the issue.

I have put forth a theory[...] on this matter and it deserves interaction. Thus far, you have not done that in a fashion befitting a viable counter-theory. This is an area where we can disagree certainly but what sets those on this list apart from persons such as [certain-parties-who-shall-remain-nameless] is the willingness to enter into the arguments of the other. You have not put together cogent arguments yet but instead have merely quoted persons and opinions. I am afraid that will not do my friend...not by a long shot. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 28, 2005)]

{12} Another subject I have written on a number of times, particularly here:

Some Principles For Authentic Dialogue and the Proper Use of Sources in Papers (circa February 9, 2006)

{13} Here are those threads for those who are interested:

My Preliminary Musings on the Anniversary of Hiroshima, on Revisiting This Subject, and on "Blackadder" (circa August 6, 2008)

Some Additional Musings on the Subject of the Atomic Bombings Subject and the Importance of Doing My Part to Facilitate Potentially Fruitful Dialogue (circa August 7, 2008)

Principles of Proper Dialogue -Part of a 2007 Joint Declaration by Shawn and "Blackadder" (circa August 10, 2008)

Response to "Blackadder" on the Atomic Bombings -Part I (circa August 14, 2008)

Response to "Blackadder" on the Atomic Bombings -Part II (circa August 23, 2008)

{14} Which I might add is more than any critic I ever had on these subjects had the decency to do. And in my case it was reading all of the postings back to back in a short timespan to refresh my memory of their content. (Rather than spread out the span of several years as was originally the case for other readers.)

{15} I have always sought to operate in this fashion. Or as I said many moons ago on the subject with some phrasing I borrowed (however subconsciously) from the late great Mike Mentzer:

Unlike the lions share of people from various outlooks who set forth opinions in the public square, the present writer does not expect anyone to accept any of his statements as some kind of arbitrary out of context injunction simply because he says it. This would base the veracity or lack thereof of his statements on a subjectivist context and would imply that truth does not objectively exist.

If you learn to think in principles you learn to think logically. Principles make thinking a lot easier and one of the goals of your host is to focus as much on principles themselves and in how those principles are to be fruitfully applied. For that reason, we will continue to press certain parties who do not seem concerned with principles and logic -either wholly or on arbitrary subject matters- to reconsider their positions. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa December 30, 2006)]

{16} Anger can be understandable at times but excessive rhetoric or invective really is a spice best used gingerly if at all.

{17} Mainly because I wanted to make sure any changes made were for objective reasons and not to try and appease anyone's ever-shifting subjective dispositions.

{18} See the content in footnotes ten and eleven as well as these examples here posted in chronological order and separated by ### markers:

I have already explained HERE why [Name Withheld]’s methodology is so fatally flawed from an intrinsic standpoint so I shant reiterate it anew in this thread or in the thread following it except (at most) briefly and in passing. Hopefully [Name Withheld] will change his mind and make this a dialogue but I am frankly near the point of no return viz. assuaging my doubts that this is possible. He may be able to fool those who react to this issue as a result of either emotionalism or the historical revisionism that passes for "history" in today's school system. However, those of us who know better will not be swayed by his overall lack of anything resembling an original argument.

Now to casual readers, it may appear that he has made an argument with the interaction with my thread on double effect. But that would be an erroneous premise for reasons I will soon make apparent. In scanning his various threads, the very things he says make it clear that my assertions that this is no actual dialogue are correct. For example, in one of his latest assemblages of random out of context citations (where he now fancies himself as someone who actually is familiar with MAGIC), [Name Withheld] repeats the assertion that Brigader General Carter Clarke was an expert on MAGIC and applies it in the context of him knowing about MAGIC with regards to the Japanese situation. Of course readers of my last post know that I have discredited Colonel Carter Clarke (he was a colonel in 1945) as a credible authority on this subject. But [Name Withheld] ignores what I wrote and again posits Clarke as a viable authority, which only shows that he is not assimilating my arguments...
[Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 6, 2005)]


The same thing happened when [Name Withheld] reposted an argument I shredded in detail as if reposting the discredited argument meant it was still a viable one. Here is how I responded to that in a previous brief posting:

I would be remiss in not noting that you seem to be posting anything (and from whatever dubious sources) in a disjointed fashion to try and make your case. For one example of many which could be mentioned, you cite Ralph Raico and treat his stuff as "much needed information." [Name Withheld], I absolutely destroyed many of the arguments he makes in my posting…particularly his regurgitation of the 46,000 figure:

But the worst-case scenario for a full-scale invasion of the Japanese home islands was forty-six thousand American lives lost.

I explained in detail and with actual mathematical models of battlefield casualties in the Pacific theatre why that figure was a pipedream. You not only do not interact with my arguments but you place them on the same plain as Raico's drivel...

Remember, people can say anything and I have not merely undermined many of the arguments from many of the sources you cite but have obliterated them. You cannot expect me to take your reposting of them as if they are still viable to be serious…that is not only not authentic dialogue but it is its very antithesis.
[Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 6, 2005 citing a combox posting from August 27, 2005)]


Most recently there was a revisiting of fallacious forms of Argumentum ad Verecundiam as being utilized by a friend of this writer in precisely this kind of context. Though dealt with in more detail in two rather long threads from September 6th, a previous posting from August 28th dealt more specifically with the Argumentum ad Vericundiam aspects of this -the latter of which can be read HERE for those who are interested. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 9, 2005)]


It seems that a certain very confused friend of this writer has sought to respond to a recent "points to ponder" thread by taking issue with the person whose words were posted. As the confused friend in question recently was on the receiving end of a pretty thorough drubbing by yours truly viz. some "arguments" they sought to propound on a subject which they were by their own admission not well informed in[...], it seems that they presume that they can avoid admitting to being taken to the cleaners in their attempted "arguments" by going after the person of Glen Whitman. Those who can figure out what fallacy this involves are ahead of the curve but I will explain it briefly for those who are still reading and for whom the penny has not dropped yet. Nonetheless, before I do that, I will briefly make a defense for the person of someone I have never met or corresponded with. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 11, 2005)]


As a proposed dialogue on a very complex and touchy subject matter in recent weeks has resulted in the exact opposite of my initial intentions occurring (i.e. matters non normative, objective, and issues based have been transmuted into normative, subjective, and personal), it seems appropriate at this time to put an end to it from my side of the fence if you will...

Readers who have followed the series of events are aware of these two points if nothing else:

--I have set forth very trenchant arguments covering the spectrum of complexities of the subjects in question.

--I have explained in reasonable detail why the attempts to counter my arguments have failed from a logical and non-normative standpoint.

Those points have not been countered with anything representing rational argument; ergo I have said what I intend to say on them and do not intend to say any more. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 12, 2005)]


Allow me to preface this post with an excerpt that will encapsulate what the aforementioned post itself will deal with.

When you take it down to brass tacks, [Name Withheld] does not make his own arguments on the subjects I raised. Instead, he makes a laundry list of people who agree with him irrespective of their actual agendas or the arguments they advance to arrive at their conclusions and opinions. This is nothing more than the fallacious form of appealing to authority which I pointed out in my last posting. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 6, 2005)]

Now for those who read the first quote of this posting and decide to not read the rest of it, I frankly do not blame them as I really did not want to have to go into this again. However, it is obvious now (if there was ever any doubt previously) that [Name Withheld] has a problem over how things went down last year when he tried to discuss a subject in the public forum that he (by his own admission) was not well-read on...

Unfortunately, [Name Withheld] again sought to take a private discussion public without warning or warrant to do so and yet again refused to actually consider what I outlined in a couple of email circulars on what I saw as problematical with his whole approach to the controversial issues in question. Thus, with the continual refusal to interact with my actual arguments and another public attempt to grandstand by [Name Withheld] undertaken, I cannot stand by and let these diversions from the subject at hand go unanswered...

Due to the fortunate circumstance of a rare block of time to do so, I decided to interact with [Name Withheld]'s original posting and ignore all of his subsequent attempts to deny what he really said and did. The real beef I had was him in this whole incident can be boiled down to a few points, namely (i) his violation of the private forum with posting on matters discussed there publicly without prior notice, (ii) what he wrote originally, (iii) the poor quality of his argumentation, and (iv) the objective lack on his part of following the disciplines of a proper dialogue. Later on, this spread to (v) all of his subsequent attempts to distract from that by claiming he did not say and do what his own words reveal by any objective review. For this reason, those subsequent posts will be summarily ignored in this posting except where needed to clarify certain points subsequent to his original posting... [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 23, 2006)]

And from there we were off to the races so to speak and things took a darker tone. (Yes I was responding to attempts at revisionism that were far from ingenuous but I could have also handled my part of it better.)

{19} See the end of footnote one.

{20} See the second link posted in footnote one.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Zinn's influential history textbook has problems, says Stanford education expert

This article was posted back when the present weblog was mothballed so I did not comment on it then. Suffice to say, those who know where to find them can find in the archives of this humble weblog plenty of less-than-flattering things about the methodology of one Howard Zinn so an article like this is most welcome to see.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My latest contribution to the Jaded Politics project courtesy of the Musings From Exile weblog{1} can be read HERE.


{1} "I link to the Musings From Exile weblog version so I do not trigger a trackback to it on the main page; thereby ensuring that I keep Rerum Novarum separate from that project." [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa April 8, 2017)]

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Under the Monroe Doctrine (Roosevelt Corollary), this would give us a green light to intervene in Venezuela!

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Democrats and the Permanent Crisis

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Jury orders blogger to pay $8.4 million to ex-Army colonel she accused of rape

As far as I am concerned, false claims of rape should be punished just as vigorously as actual rape!

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Why I Was Fired by Google

Or to use one of the old weblog styled headings{1} as a commentary on this thread: "Diversity For Me, Not For Thee" Dept.


{1} For those who did not figure it out years ago, this was a style shamelessly borrowed from Mad Magazine.


The police boycott of Dunkin’ Donuts is fully on

Let me make sure I get this straight: police are boycotting a donut shop?