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Comments by Sully

On “In a world of their own: Conservatives and Avatar

@ CK MacLeod:

Brooks - first graf
"Every age produces its own sort of fables, and our age seems to have produced The White Messiah fable."

Brooks - fourth graf
"Kids have been given their own pure versions of the fable, like “Pocahontas” and “FernGully.”

Wikipedia - "Pocahontas (c.1595 – March 21, 1617)"

Despite the above I shall persist in reading the Brooks column in service to my Tsar.


Re hoppy-nuts -

I can see why fuster is sensitive on the subject.


@ fuster:

I already get the senior discount; but it's a mere 20% or so. I think seniors should get in for a lot less. Don't those people know we're all poor?

I may try the cane and dark glasses thing and see if I do better. I'm thinking I'll tap my way right past the young punk ticket taker, figuring he won't have the guts to press me for a ticket.


Now a comment on the comments:

1. Why does everything turn to contention about Sarah Palin? Someone could make a lot of money doing a Sarah Palin movie. The sheer volume and nastiness of the fight among conservatives about it would eliminate need for a marketing budget.

2. I liked the Bourne books and movies; but not especially much. I think of them as above average for their genre. Their most salient message is a cautionary one about the danger of trusting the kind of people who inevitably rise to the top of CYA government bureaucracies; with emphasis on how such faceless overlords can so easily rationalize folding, spindling and mutilating individuals who become inconvenient. It is not Conservatives who want to put such bureaucrats in full and complete charge of health care and thus give them the literal power of life and death over everyone in the country.


CK - A masterful, interesting and thought provoking review. It deserves and hopefully will get wide circulation.

Incidently, I (and I think you) saw the movie in "plain old 3D". I read a comment elsewhere by someone who saw it in IMAX 3D and described it as mind blowing. I may do that; and I have never paid to see a first run movie more than one time.

On “Tales from the Geopolitical Crypt: Seven Deadly Scenarios by Andrew Krepinevich

@ fuster:

One real reason for not trying to kill the Emperor by bomb (quite unlikely to be successful BTW)
was that it would have pretty much insured the death of every allied POW in Japan.

I'm not sure it's a sufficient reason given the rate at which American combatants were dying; but that is a good reason I hadn't considered.


@ narciso:

Thanks for posting that. The minutes of that meeting are filled with interesting stuff.


@ narciso:

I've seen it also; but can't recall where. It's not "lunatic" at all to think that a big man would exempt city A for sentimental reasons while approving the targetting of city B.

One of the most common equipages of big men is belief that "it's all about me" even though most of them hide that attitude better than our current president.


@ fuster:

The firebombing of Tokyo was pretty much over the line as it was. It wasn’t silliness to exempt the Palace grounds.

Japanese persons in Tokyo, in that they were producing war materials and supplies for war fighters, were legitimate targets in a war that Japan clearly started and which Japan stubbornly refused to end. Innocents were unfortunately kept intermixed with them by Japanese leaders who therefore bear all responsibility for their deaths.


@ CK MacLeod:

Meanwhile, the Emperor’s Palace was probably considered a religious/cultural site of the sort that had throughout the war been declared off-limits except when deemed militarily significant

You (and Marshall and the other war fighters) can't have it both ways. Their argument effectively was that the emperor, as head of state, could not be directly attacked from a moral standpoint and also from a practical standpoint because he was in charge and necessary to negotiate with.

And, in fact, when he got on the radio and said "put down your arms and surrender" virtually every Japanese soldier and sailor did so as meekly as could be.

So. . . he was in charge and could potentially have ended the war at any time had he been willing to risk all. He also could have prevented the war in the first place, or at least died trying to prevent a war being started in his name. He was hence one of a few who were the most guilty persons in Japan with respect to the war.

So, tell me again. Why was Hirohito exempt from attack, guilty as he was and major war asset that he was (being in his person the basis for Japan's very cohesion as a nation) while Japanese 18 year old dupes of the emperor hiding in caves on Iwo Jima were fair game to be rooted out by American 18 year old draftees with flamethrowers at great risk of their lives?


@ JEM:

Perhaps my post was less clear than I thought. I think the A Bomb attacks were as moral as any act in the war.

My beef with Marshall (and I don't have a huge beef with him - he was a great man) is that he tolerated the silliness of exempting the emperor's palace from bombing while planning an invasion of Japan that would have gotten tens or hundreds of thousands of GIs killed. And he planned that invasion while the submarine campaign was already starving the Japanese into submission and the air campaign was already systematically destroying Japan city by city at little cost in American lives.

Beyond that I used Marshall as an example of the angels on the heads of pins arguments and positions of so called moralists because he is the perfect example of the behavior of elites in all times.

Yes, he carried out the Marshall Plan; and I'm sure he did a good job of it - namely using other people's money to achieve something arguably worthwhile for which the other people (those whose money Marshall used) should have gotten the peace prize, if anyone.


@ fuster:

You really should have read what I wrote before responding at some sort of fifth dimensionsional angle to something I didn't write and don't believe.

For the record, I think ALL of our actions in WW2 that were conducted in furtherance of bringing about the swiftest possible defeat and dissolution of the attacking governments from the moment we were attacked (and declared war on in the case of Germany) were both proportional and moral by any standard that's reasonable to hold.

I was trying to say, and I think I did say fairly coherently, that it was both deeply immoral and in practice stupid to exempt both Hitler and Hirohito from direct attack while mercilessly pounding their less guilty countrymen and women, even though I believe pounding their less guilty countrymen to force their surrender was itself a moral act in that they shared responsibility for the actions of the governments they tolerated and/or supported.

I'm a simple person. I think we should almost never start a war; but when one is started against us we should fight with any and all weapons at our disposal with the almost exclusive goal of minimizing our own casualties.

There is an easy way to tell if one should fight "fair". If there is a referee whose decisions will be unquestionably accepted by both parties to the fight one should fight "fair".


But who am I to argue with the great moralists. After all, they gave George Marshall the Nobel Peace Prize after he helped plan the multi million man draftee army that killed millions of German draftees and bombed the hell out of German cities while the moralists were advising Churchill that assassinating Hitler would be immoral.


@ CK MacLeod:

George C Marshall: “We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

Of course, much as we want to gloss over it, Marshall said that as we carried out punitive and terror inducing actions many many orders of magnitude greater than what the Russians did in a surgical manner, so to speak, to send a message to Hezbollah.

Much as we want to deny it there are people in the world who value only their own lives and the lives of their relations, and who will not stop unless you prove to them that you're willing to attack and capable of attacking that which they value.

Our so called "morality" leads inevitably to massive wars fought against the relatively innocent by draftees urged on by leaders who are surrounded by their families and harems and held safe and off limits from attack in their palaces. The fact that there was an Emperor of Japan to treat with at the end of a war which saw us destroy a couple dozen cities is ample proof.


Meanwhile an economist friend just sent me an econometrics update that included the happy news that industrial production dropped lower earlier this year than the low level it reached in 2001. Production is now on the rise; but that seemed rather ominous to me.

In effect we just experienced the second dip of the recession that started in 2000, at least with respect to industrial production which underlies all economic activity and on top of which everything else is just the froth (necessary though it may be) associated with dividing up the hard goods whose production and delivery are the necessary purpose of an economy.


Nothing new, of course. I just found and listed Alas Babylon on Amazon. I listed it at a high price so I can read it again.


Actually, it sounds like a pretty interesting book; which is probably an indicator of how sick I am in the head.

Why are we, the most favored and prosperous people in the history of the world, so consumed with interest in potential disasters?


a series of nuclear attacks in the American homeland brought off by an effectively unidentifiable (and therefore un-targetable) sponsor

That one's easy. After each incident terminate the most likely couple of suspects promptly and with extreme prejudice. If the attacks continue after only four or five or ten incidents all of the possible suspects will be gone and the resultant dust in the atmosphere will solve global warming for decades.

But I think several of the suspects down the list from the first couple of eliminatees will help solve the problem if we made a hasty mistake with the first retaliation.

On “Portrait of a Failed Presidency: "What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?" by Kevin Mattson

@ CK MacLeod:

You work fast your wonders to perform.

I like the way you formatted Zoltan's sentence.


@ CK MacLeod:

I’m not sure how much of it would stand as mainly Oslash;’s fault.

We're screwed if we continue applying more drags on the economy as solutions to the problems caused by the currently in place drags.

Which brings me to why I selected the quote above.

Fault doesn't matter. The question that matters is blame. Roosevelt managed to blame Hoover and sustain his popularity all the way through a depression his policies almost unquestionably made worse. Rex takes the blame for our current problems all the way back to Nixon. There is more than a grain of truth in that position; but I find it interesting that Rex's proposed solutions are statist ones, even though he seems to be seeing former statist solutions as the cause.

If President Obama manages to shift the blame onto what the Democrats call "deregulation" and lack of "fairness" he can pull a Roosevelt and spend eight years maintaining popularity by taking actions that will drive the economy down from its knees to where it's fully prostrate.

It may be turn out to be a good thing that the Democrats strongly control both the White House and the Congress this year and next.


@ narciso:

inevitable hyperinflation and interest rate spike

I don't know about hyperinflation; but a lot of treasury debt is coming due each month on top of something like a trillion in new deficit just as countries around the world are getting leery about holding dollar denominated bonds. Interest rates on government bonds are almost certainly going to have to rise if enough new bonds are to be sold. And rising rates would not seem good for a recovery, if we have begun one.

On “If At First You Don’t Succeed… – WORLD WAR ONE – a Short History by Norman Stone

The credulous led by the incredibly clueless.

But not all. I posted the comment below to J.E. Dyer's commemoration of Veteran's Day.

I remember being surprised as an early teenager when my dad, a WW2 veteran, told me that his father’s war was altogether a different thing from his – unnecessary and foolish. “It was none of our business, and it really did a lot of good, didn’t it?”

My dad’s father was gone by then, so I took that thought to my mother’s father, who had also fought in WWI, with an artillery unit. I can’t quote him because his english was poor and my italian far worse. The gist of what I got was that it was a good war because it yielded him American citizenship. The work in the army wasn’t easy; but it wasn’t nearly as hard as work for the padrone who was a (unprintable and I doubt I could get translate the italian vehemence into a description). I was quite shocked at the time.

It was the first time in his life he ate any significant amount of meat and the American sargeants were easy to work for next to the overseer on the padrone’s land. They treated you like a person rather than like an animal. Then he told me about gas attacks and how they (the common soldiers) almost looked forward to them. There were gas masks for the horses; but the mess sargeants made sure all the units knew to go slow on getting the masks on weak or sickly horses when supplies of meat were low.

“You ate the horses!”

‘When you’re belly’s empty, Sulliva, you mangia what there is.’

The peasant’s point of view of the wars of the gentry.


@ CK MacLeod:

I think the bugs bunny / daffy duck thing was a later cartoon and about WW2.

I probably should have written that I think I saw Boom Boom as a kid because of the way memory works and the possibility that scenes and gags were later copied in other cartoons; but the scene with the shell chasing the motorcycle and the scene of the cow? becoming an angel with a harp sure seemed familiar. Also the bugler at the beginning.

The matter of fact violence with consequences might well stem from the horrified attitude that grew out of that war. In Messina my wife and I came upon a very elaborate war memorial that contained hundreds of crypts of soldiers who died from 1915 to 1918. WW2 didn't inspire that sort of monument - or perhaps the felt need to bring men home for burial had lessened - or perhaps Mussolini and his fascists built monuments like that in service to their Second Roman Empire sense of grandiosity.

My mother, visiting family in her (our) ancestral town in northeastern Italy in the 1990's, met a several year older than her cousin who still commonly wore his full blackshirt fascist uniform out of yearning for the good old days. Among the other relatives he was considered off his rocker, but no one was shocked by him. They joked with my mom that he was lucky the communists hadn't shot him after the war.


@ CK MacLeod:

I remember that cartoon. I saw it as a kid; but it still surprised me with how matter of factly it humorized death, shell shock, torture, etc.


Very fine writing; but I think you let yourself get a bit carried away by the prose. Not that I, of all people, occupy ground suitable for making that charge.

"The greatest positive accomplishment of the Royal Navy may have been protecting merchant shipping so poorly against U-boats as to bring the enraged Americans earlier into the war."

A nicely turned sentence that suited your objective and narrative flow; but it implies that the Royal Navy could have protected merchant shipping much better. I could be wrong but it seems more the case that the technology to protect merchant shipping simply wasn't there.

Regardless, I enjoyed the review a lot, and I've put the book on my wish list; although I doubt the fellow's writing matches what you produced for sheer elan. It reminds me a bit of parts of Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War .

By the way, Youtube has removed your video for unauthorized use. The next knock on your door may be their lawyers.

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