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Sunday, March 31, 2013

OTP: April 2013: Daily Caller: Baseball and the GOP: To rebrand the party, think like a sports fan

This week’s GOP autopsy report, commissioned by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, is a great start in the much-needed task of rebranding the Republican Party. As the chairman acknowledged, “the way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough” and “we have to be more inclusive.” The report contains 219 recommendations to “connect people to our principles.” To achieve that goal, the party will need a strategic vision of how voters think about politics, which is something that the report lacks. For that, the GOP can learn a lot from another American passion: baseball.

This year, about 75 million Americans will go to the baseball stadium to watch a ballgame, about the same number as those who will vote in next year’s election. We rarely think about why someone becomes a baseball fan, or why they root for a certain team. Nor do we usually think about why someone chooses to vote for a certain political party. But it’s actually a very useful exercise.

When it comes to baseball, fan loyalty has almost nothing to do with the brain, and almost everything to do with the heart. In all of history, there’s never been a baseball fan who rooted for his team because it had the lowest ticket prices, or because it had the most taxpayer-friendly stadium deal, or because its players did the most community service. For the vast majority of Americans, rooting for a baseball team — not to mention, voting for a political party — isn’t really a rational choice; it’s more of a statement of personal identity — a statement telling the world, “This is who I am.” And for most people, defining “who I am” starts with family and community, before branching out into areas like race, age, gender, and class.

Family is pretty straightforward. If your mom and dad are Yankee fans, you’re almost certainly a Yankee fan. The same is true in politics. If your mom and dad are Republicans, you’re almost certainly a Republican.

Community is also pretty straightforward. If you grew up in, say, Philadelphia, chances are pretty great you’re a Phillies fan. Likewise, someone who grew up in Republican territory like, say, suburban Dallas or rural Indiana is much more likely to become a Republican than a nearly identical person from Seattle or Santa Fe.

Cities with more than one baseball team, like New York or Chicago, show revealing breakdowns by race and gender. The racial split in Chicago between Cubs fans on the North Side and White Sox fans on the South Side is well-documented. In New York, there’s an intriguing gender gap between Mets and Yankee fans, with women gravitating a lot more to the Yanks. While there’s a few theories out there trying to explain that, one obvious answer leaps out: Yankees heartthrob Derek Jeter.

In sports, as in politics, people’s convictions can’t be conveniently reduced to who their parents are or what they look like. But those things are an important foundation, upon which more rational sentiments come into being. Once you’re attached to your team on an emotional level — seeing them as a personal reflection of who you are and what you care about most — a rational exterior comes into being through phrases like “the Red Sox are the best team because they have the most heart” or “the Republicans are the best party because they know how to create jobs.”

Tripon Posted: March 31, 2013 at 10:52 AM | 6544 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: politics

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   801. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4404631)
The idea that there is a way to conduct a war that isn't inherently criminal is a a tough one for me to get my head around. Wars are by definition nasty amoral affairs that are going to require actions that people consider "criminal", as well as involve wholesale slaughter of innocents. Having said that, I can differentiate between Dresden/Tokyo and Dachau/Bataan, and even go a bit further and say that pretty much anything done to win WWII is fine by me. Dresden/Tokyo were located inside the areas of control of combatant aggressor countries. They get no special pass. I am with Sherman (although ironically an Atlantan) - " Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence."

Yes, but the question is why isn't intentionally dropping bombs civilians to kill and terrorize them (there was no pretense of aiming at factories in the British firebombing of Germany, or the US firebombing of Japan) inherently criminal.

We hanged people for shooting and gassing civilians, and gave medals to Generals who orchestrated something not so different.
   802. Canker Soriano Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4404632)
Have you ever been laid off? If you have, it's not nearly as big a deal, especially if you get a decent severance package.

Being laid off from my last job was the best thing that could have happened. The place was going down the tubes, I got time off to recharge and enough money to get out of debt for the first time in about 15 years.

Obviously it depends on your individual situation, but honestly I was praying they'd lay me off when it happened. The people who stuck around get to do double the work for the same money, unless they quit (in which case no severance).
   803. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4404633)
I cannot at all fathom the idea that atomic bombings were war crimes;


I don't view them as war crimes, as I said. But what makes it an issue is the civilians angle.
   804. spike Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4404634)
I know he told McNamara that if they had somehow lost he'd have expected to be tried as a war criminal.

He would not have gotten the luxury of a trial - or certainly not like the one his opposite number got.
   805. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:50 PM (#4404637)
He would not have gotten the luxury of a trial.

I'm not so sure. The Nazis may have hired LeMay, like we did with Werner Braun.
   806. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:51 PM (#4404638)
The issue I have with Japan is their total unwillingness to surrender. We had seen Germans surrender en masse throughout the war, but never the Japanese. I mean, they had just finished a campaign in Okinawa where we killed 100,000+ Japanese soldiers, and only ~500-1000 (mostly Korean labor troops) surrendered. Thousands of civilians committed suicide to avoid capture. I don't know how you were going to end the war without something approaching a war crime.


That I'm willing to accede to. And for the record, this is a movement for me away from a harder line against the bombings as clear and obvious moral crimes against humanity. The last time we had this conversation, I would not have accepted this reasoning, but I think it's a reasonable give on my part, given the conditions you outline above. It's easy as a Monday Morning QB to post-date modern morality onto Imperial Japan and assume they would have acted rationally if we'd just been slightly more patient and willing to be the better angels of history. But as NK shows us today, some cultures are just deranged, and no amount of gentle pressure and talk therapy was going to move the Japanese off of the will of their Emperor-God. That's not an easy point for a modernist to accede to, but it is a point a true post-structuralist must give credence to as possibility. Otherwise, we're just pretending that there's a natural "human nature" that permeates all of history, that just so happens to mirror the current state of moral thinking.

I also appreciate your phraseology of "something approaching a war crime."
   807. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4404642)
Being laid off from my last job was the best thing that could have happened. The place was going down the tubes, I got time off to recharge and enough money to get out of debt for the first time in about 15 years.

Obviously it depends on your individual situation, but honestly I was praying they'd lay me off when it happened. The people who stuck around get to do double the work for the same money, unless they quit (in which case no severance).


I've had one that cost me some money (i.e. unemployed for longer than severance) and one where I made money (6 months severance, got a new job in 2).

Never quit until you have another job. Reduce your work effort until you're no longer unhappy.
   808. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4404644)
It's a valid argument: why is it a war crime to shoot or gas a civilian, but not to intentionally incinerate his home with him and his family in it?


Part of the problem is that the concept of a "war crime" as we think of it didn't really exist until *after* WW II.
   809. The District Attorney Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4404646)
In response to that, the question becomes, what would waiting a few more months for more bombs have cost us.

The number I've seen is 7,000 a week.
Right. I'm of course envisioning a holding action, not a full-scale attempt to "drive the Japanese out of Japan." So that seems reasonable.

Well... I don't know. I just don't know.
   810. Ron J2 Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4404647)
#800 It's pretty clear that by pre-war agreements terror bombing of civilians was a war crime (as opposed to accidental deaths when going against a military target). So for that matter was unrestricted submarine warfare (Donitz was convicted of a war crime for this despite testimony from Nimitz that he gave the same orders.)

They started it was the basic justification.
   811. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4404648)
That I'm willing to accede to. And for the record, this is a movement for me away from a harder line against the bombings as clear and obvious moral crimes against humanity. The last time we had this conversation, I would not have accepted this reasoning, but I think it's a reasonable give on my part, given the conditions you outline above. It's easy as a Monday Morning QB to post-date modern morality onto Imperial Japan and assume they would have acted rationally if we'd just been slightly more patient and willing to be the better angels of history. But as NK shows us today, some cultures are just deranged, and no amount of gentle pressure and talk therapy was going to move the Japanese off of the will of their Emperor-God. That's not an easy point for a modernist to accede to, but it is a point a true post-structuralist must give credence to as possibility. Otherwise, we're just pretending that there's a natural "human nature" that permeates all of history, that just so happens to mirror the current state of moral thinking.

I also appreciate your phraseology of "something approaching a war crime."


As I said, I don't know that it wasn't. It may have been a war crime, with no alternative that wasn't a worse war crime.

If someone is killing my wife, and the only way to save her involves killing his innocent wife and children too, they're all going to die. I know it's immoral, but I'd still do it.
   812. spike Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4404653)
Yes, but the question is why isn't intentionally dropping bombs civilians to kill and terrorize them (there was no pretense of aiming at factories in the British firebombing of Germany, or the US firebombing of Japan) inherently criminal.

For the same reason that sending an army to invade their country isn't, or a submarine to sink their commercial shipping isn't. There are no partial declarations - the entirety of a country is at war. Pretending you can somehow preserve some fiction of combatants versus civilians is a perpetual fiction that winners can permit themselves to indulge in after the fact.

We hanged people for shooting and gassing civilians, and gave medals to Generals who orchestrated something not so different.

See above.
   813. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4404655)
Part of the problem is that the concept of a "war crime" as we think of it didn't really exist until *after* WW II.

But there have been rules of war for much longer. The rule that a city that surrendered up until the first breach in the wall was spared sack and rapine, while a city that forced the attacker to storm it was open season for the troops, goes back centuries.
   814. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4404661)
The issue I have with Japan is their total unwillingness to surrender.


I'm guessing that had we not dropped the bombs, and slowly built up for Downfall... and as mass starvation throughout Japan kicked in - it's possible that Hirohito would have thrown in the towel- it's also possible the hawks may have kidnapped him and gagged him if they thought he was going to.

   815. Ron J2 Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4404665)
#809 Yeah. The 7,000 is just normal attrition. The conservative estimates for serious offensive actions are in the 100,000+ range. As the link on the last page discusses, hideous casualties could be expected in any landing attempt.
   816. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4404667)
We hanged people for shooting and gassing civilians, and gave medals to Generals who orchestrated something not so different.


Spike is correct. In a war like WW II, it really does all come down to laundry. Wear the wrong jersey, you risk death. Period. As we exit the age of true total war and move forward into privatized wars by proxy, this is a lesson we run the risk of forgetting.
   817. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4404668)
For the same reason that sending an army to invade their country isn't, or a submarine to sink their commercial shipping isn't. There are no partial declarations - the entirety of a country is at war. Pretending you can somehow preserve some fiction of combatants versus civilians is a perpetual fiction that winners can permit themselves to indulge in after the fact.

Which is wrong, and immoral. We need to strive to target only military forces and installations.

The worst part of the terror bombing campaign is that it was a collosal failure. It didn't begin to affect German industrial production until late 1944. If we had used all those planes in a tactical (against troop formations) or operational (against lines of communications) capacity, we would have ended the war sooner.

We incinerated millions of German civilians to no end.

In Japan, the case is less clear, because there seemed to be no way to get them to surrender.
   818. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:04 PM (#4404671)
But there have been rules of war for much longer. The rule that a city that surrendered up until the first breach in the wall was spared sack and rapine, while a city that forced the attacker to storm it was open season for the troops, goes back centuries.


Perhaps. But the "rules of war" were only codified some 300 years before the A-bomb. And even then, Westphalia was far out of date to handle fire bombings and atomic weapons. How does a city decide to give up before "breach" when breach is a mushroom cloud?
   819. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4404675)
Spike is correct. In a war like WW II, it really does all come down to laundry. Wear the wrong jersey, you risk death. Period.

You could use the "Total War" excuse as a defense for the British pre-1942, when they really faced an existential threat to their survival.

By mid-1943, we knew we couldn't lose. The question was how to end the war as quickly and cheaply as possible. There you need to be willing to make some trade-offs to protect enemy civilians.

Are we going to march 1000 enemy schoolchildren through a minefield to clear it, because one of our mine removal engineers might die?

You could argue that the biggest war crime on the Allied side was FDR's demand for "Unconditional Surrender", which he didn't even vet with Churchill.

The anti-Nazi opposition in Germany was almost crippled by that declaration, and resistance greatly hardened. There's a very good chance that if we had communicated a willingness to make a non-punitive peace with a non-Nazi German regime, that Hitler would have been deposed.

Field Marshal Beck (a major figure in the von Stauffenberg plot) was planning to kill him in 1941, but Hitler cancelled his visit to Beck's army. There was serious opposition in the Army, that faded badly after the declaration.
   820. spike Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4404676)
Which is wrong, and immoral.

War is by definition (well to most folks) a wrong and immoral enterprise. That people manage to convince themselves it isn't is exactly why humans keep entering into them.

We need to strive to target only military forces and installations.

I would strongly suggest you not get in a war with anyone if that's how you intend to prosecute it.
   821. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:09 PM (#4404678)
Perhaps. But the "rules of war" were only codified some 300 years before the A-bomb. And even then, Westphalia was far out of date to handle fire bombings and atomic weapons. How does a city decide to give up before "breach" when breach is a mushroom cloud?

Sure. But the general point that you don't kill civilians unless they participate directly in resistance had been in place in the Western world for at least 500 years.
   822. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4404680)
If we had used all those planes in a tactical (against troop formations)


Even though the Air Force was still technically part of the Army in WW2- they saw themselves as a separate service- and inter-service rivalries were a problem- the Air Force didn't "want" to do close support missions, they wanted to fight their own war and bomb the enemy's homeland.

and the sad part is the few times we did use mass bomber formations (including B-17s and B-24s) against tactical targets- they were usually effective - for instance the opening bombardment of Operation Cobra where several thousand planes carpet bombed the German lines before the ground offensive... but the Air Force didn't "want" to do those missions they wanted to do "strategic" bombing, they saw the close support missions as being wasteful of their assets- when the exact opposite was true.

Worse, when they began running put of "strategic" targets, they then began targeting civilian sites of dubious military significance, or sitting out altogether.

   823. spike Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4404681)
By mid-1943, we knew we couldn't lose.

We also knew that Hitler was in the process of slaughtering your precious civilians wholesale, and that every day he was allowed to continue would see the death of hundreds more. The Nazis are damned lucky they weren't fighting someone as horrible as they were, or it would have been a Dresden a day until they quit.
   824. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4404684)
Sure. But the general point that you don't kill civilians unless they participate directly in resistance had been in place in the Western world for at least 500 years.


Lip service has been paid to that notion, after the fact, for 500 years perhaps. Tactical prosecution of a theater of war? I have my doubts. Monkey's gonna monkey, buddy.
   825. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4404686)
War is by definition (well to most folks) a wrong and immoral enterprise. That people manage to convince themselves it isn't is exactly why humans keep entering into them.

That's silly. What do you do if you're attacked? Just give up?

I would strongly suggest you not get in a war with anyone if that's how you intend to prosecute it.

Why? If you have enough military power, you can pull it off. The U.S. has taken this approach in all of it's recent wars. Even in WW2, our targeting of civilians did virtually nothing to shorten the war in Europe.

If we had just announced that we intended to let them keep their Emperor, we probably could have negotiated peace with Japan before the A-boms.

Again, Ubnconditional Surrender was a stupid and evil doctrine, that we didn't even follow through on.

That's also why I favor overkill in military spending. I wan't to be able to survive a Pearl Harbor level intelligence failure, and still be able to beat any possible opponents with one hand tied behind my back (including observing the rules of war).
   826. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4404688)
Even though the Air Force was still technically part of the Army in WW2- they saw themselves as a separate service- and inter-service rivalries were a problem- the Air Force didn't "want" to do close support missions, they wanted to fight their own war and bomb the enemy's homeland.

and the sad part is the few times we did use mass bomber formations (including B-17s and B-24s) against tactical targets- they were usually effective - for instance the opening bombardment of Operation Cobra where several thousand planes carpet bombed the German lines before the ground offensive... but the Air Force didn't "want" to do those missions they wanted to do "strategic" bombing, they saw the close support missions as being wasteful of their assets- when the exact opposite was true.

Worse, when they began running put of "strategic" targets, they then began targeting civilian sites of dubious military significance, or sitting out altogether.


Yes, well F*** that. It's war, you follow orders.

I'll make Patton head of the Air Corps, and replace everyone above Colonel with infantry officer just back from the front-line if those jackasses won't do as their told.
   827. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4404690)
That's silly. What do you do if you're attacked? Just give up?

Depends what you mean by "attacked." We were "attacked" on 9/11. What were we supposed to do about that?
   828. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4404691)

We also knew that Hitler was in the process of slaughtering your precious civilians wholesale, and that every day he was allowed to continue would see the death of hundreds more. The Nazis are damned lucky they weren't fighting someone as horrible as they were, or it would have been a Dresden a day until they quit.


And we didn't care. Not one bit. We didn't even try to bomb the rail lines leading to the death camps.

The Allied leaders were wholely indifferent to the Holocaust, or the suffering of occupied civilians.



   829. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4404694)
Lip service has been paid to that notion, after the fact, for 500 years perhaps. Tactical prosecution of a theater of war? I have my doubts. Monkey's gonna monkey, buddy.

But in most cases, tactical operation don't lead to war crimes. Unless you have undisciplined troops shooting civilians. Most civilian deaths from tactical operations are correctly deemed collateral damage, and not immoral. Troops in direct combat rightly have tremendous leeway to preserve their lives.

Strategic operations, especially air attack, is what generates potential war crimes.
   830. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4404697)

Depends what you mean by "attacked." We were "attacked" on 9/11. What were we supposed to do about that?


Hunt down those responsible, kill them, kill all their supporters and sympathizers, kill their dogs, and burn their damn house down.

That we went too far afield, and atacked an unrelated country, doesn't mean we didn't have the right to destroy the agressors. If a state was actually aiding Bin Laden et al, that's an act of war, and we had the right to declare war and invade. I hate that we never declare war anymore.
   831. spike Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4404699)
What do you do if you're attacked? Just give up?

You f the other side up so bad they remember not to try it again. That's why Atlanta, Dresden, Tokyo etc. are consequences of war, not war crimes.

Why? If you have enough military power, you can pull it off.

Horseshit. It's happened in every war and will continue to do so, because as you note, The U.S. has taken this approach in all of it's recent wars. and been unable to prevent it from occurring in all of them. Haditha. The Highway Of Death.

Even in WW2, our targeting of civilians did virtually nothing to shorten the war in Europe.

So f'in what? Even if I concede that's true, which I don't, that fact does not make me weep for Dresden. I'd rather we didn't just shoot civilians as a matter of policy - it's bad tactics/strategy. One city getting firebombed versus another city though? It's not a difference with any distinction. Countries that engage in wars have sown the wind and will reap the whirlwind, as they say.

   832. spike Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4404701)
And we didn't care. Not one bit. We didn't even try to bomb the rail lines leading to the death camps.

The Allied leaders were wholely indifferent to the Holocaust, or the suffering of occupied civilians.


Non-responsive and irrelevant. The point is that the bad guys were killing civilians ALREADY so all bets are off in the prosecution of a war against them.
   833. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4404702)
But in most cases, tactical operation don't lead to war crimes. Unless you have undisciplined troops shooting civilians. Most civilian deaths from tactical operations are correctly deemed collateral damage, and not immoral.


And the distinction between war crimes and collateral damage is whistling past the graveyard.
   834. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4404712)
Horseshit. It's happened in every war and will continue to do so, because as you note, The U.S. has taken this approach in all of it's recent wars. and been unable to prevent it from occurring in all of them. Haditha. The Highway Of Death.

There's a difference between war crimes committe by individuals or small units, and war crimes authorized as acts of national policy or strategy. The first can't be prevented completely, but should be punished harshly. The latter can and should be avoided.

BTW, the "Highway of Death" is not even close to a war crime. Retreating enemies are 100% fair game. They often retreat only to fight another day. If you don't want to get shot at, you surrender.

Non-responsive and irrelevant. The point is that the bad guys were killing civilians ALREADY so all bets are off in the prosecution of a war against them.

It is totally relevent as to the intentions of the Allies, and hence the morality of the firebombings. If they didn't care about the civilians the Nazis were killing, and it didn't enter their calculus, you can't use it as a defense of the actions.

And the distinction between war crimes and collateral damage is whistling past the graveyard.

You're wrong. There are unavoidable deaths and avoidable deaths. War crimes at the state and strategic level are almost wholely avoidable, and it's immoral not to do so. You should also try to limit collateral damage as much as possible.

War crimes at the individual or small group level, should be prosecuted and punished harshly. Any soldier caught killing or raping civilians should be executed in short order.

   835. spike Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4404720)
War crimes at the individual or small group level, should be prosecuted and punished harshly. Any soldier caught killing or raping civilians should be executed in short order.

People should give to the March Of Dimes too. Question, does this make both God AND Moses guilty of war crimes against the Midianites, or was Moses "just following orders"?
   836. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4404721)
Any soldier caught killing or raping civilians should be executed in short order.


You know what induction at Parris Island is about? Really about? It has nothing to do with physical fitness, really. It's about turning men into killing machines. It's about moving people out of modern conditioning and past "thou shalt not kill." Even so, only something like 30% of active theater Marines fire their weapons *in firefights.* (Numbers are vaguely recalled from previous readings; I'd have to dig for the cite.)

Yet you want to pretend that once we turn men into murder-machines, which is *what boot camp is there to do*, that we can expect those same men to turn off the killing instinct on a dime. You have far too much blind faith in humanity, chief. That's not what the monkey does.
   837. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4404725)
You know what induction at Parris Island is about? Really about? It has nothing to do with physical fitness, really. It's about turning men into killing machines. It's about moving people out of modern conditioning and past "thou shalt not kill." Even so, only something like 30% of active theater Marines fire their weapons *in firefights.* (Numbers are vaguely recalled from previous readings; I'd have to dig for the cite.)

Yet you want to pretend that once we turn men into murder-machines, which is *what boot camp is there to do*, that we can expect those same men to turn off the killing instinct on a dime. You have far too much blind faith in humanity, chief. That's not what the monkey does.


American soldiers almost never kill civilians intentionally. That's why it's such big news when it happens.

Are you still using S.L.A. Marshall's work? Because that's been totally debunked.
   838. spike Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:56 PM (#4404738)
Still waiting - should Moses have been executed for the murder and rape of the Midianite children?
   839. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:57 PM (#4404740)
Are you still using S.L.A. Marshall's work? Because that's been totally debunked.


I honestly don't know. I'd have to dig for the cite and I'm not sure I'm willing to invest that energy in the research right now.
   840. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4404746)
American soldiers almost never kill civilians intentionally.

You must have a bizarre denominator there, because American soldiers frequently kill civilians intentionally. If you include carrying out tactical orders in pursuit of strategic objectives, it's almost entirely intertwined with the American way of war. The soldiers who dropped the bombs on North Vietnam on Christmas Day 1972 killed civilians intentionally, for the sole purpose of attempting to move the negotiating stance of the "other side" a tiny bit. That's practically a paradigmatic war crime, defined properly.
   841. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:05 PM (#4404750)
SBB has a good point against you @840, Snapper. You seem to be defining "the American soldier" as a boots on the ground guy in a war zone. That sort of defining out of the flyboys who drop bombs on people from on high sort of cheats more than the edges.
   842. Lassus Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:06 PM (#4404751)
You have far too much blind faith in humanity, chief. That's not what the monkey does.

Indeed. There WERE a lot of rapes during WWII, after all.

(Seriously, what? It would have been a crime not to, a setup that glaring.)
   843. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:18 PM (#4404769)
(Seriously, what? It would have been a crime not to, a setup that glaring.)


? I r confused. Yes, there were a ton of rapes in WWII, I'm sure.
   844. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4404777)
I have to go (and so am many posts behind but ...

Ebert was not only a fiercely consistent movie critic (I always learned from his reviews, despite or in fact because his taste was a lot different from mine) – he was also a fine political writer and an extremely eloquent assessor of the human condition as he became more and more ill and disabled over the past few years. One of my favorite writers.


QFT. 100% agree.

And regarding the bombing in WWII I agree with Morty.

I am just a yes man I guess.
   845. Lassus Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:54 PM (#4404809)
And regarding the bombing in WWII I agree with Morty.

Eh. I think the Monday Morning Quarterbacking goes both ways.
   846. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:07 PM (#4404820)
Tooze's Wages of Destruction is a must-read on the effects of the Strategic Bombing campaign vs. Germany. Reports after the war exaggerated the success of strategic bombing but then the pendulum swung a bit too far the other way.

It's not clear that strategic bombing was the absolute most efficient use of Allied resources (though the tens of thousands of Flak troops and installations the Germans built throughout Germany that weren't turned into something useful on the front lines has to be taken into account), but I think it did help the war effort.

There's a very good chance that if we had communicated a willingness to make a non-punitive peace with a non-Nazi German regime, that Hitler would have been deposed.


After World War I? No, I don't think a negotiated peace was acceptable after Germany started a second World War. And for the record, if Germany ever starts a Third World War, forget Unconditional Surrender. Just nuke 'em until they are ash.
   847. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:17 PM (#4404826)
Getting back to the issue of the definition of the word "marriage" (sorry!!!), Geoffrey Nunberg had an interesting commentary today.

It's a funny thing about dictionaries. First we're taught to revere them, then we have to learn to set them aside. Nobody ever went wrong starting a middle-school composition with, "According to Webster's ..." but that's not how you start an op-ed commentary about terrorism or racism. When it comes to the words that do the cultural heavy lifting, we're not about to defer to some lexicographer hunched over a dusty keyboard.

Except, of course, if the word is "marriage." Now that even a lot of Republicans are accepting civil unions as a fallback position, what opponents of same-sex marriage object to most strenuously seems to be just its name. As a tactical move, thumping the dictionary has replaced thumping the Bible. As Rush Limbaugh recently put it, "By definition, same-sex people cannot be married." You had the feeling that that "by definition" was really a stand-in for "by God."

...

"Marriage" is more than a label to both sides. Words tend to pick up the flavors of the broth they've been steeping in: They're surrounded by customs and prescriptions that seem to infuse their very meanings. When I hear somebody using a word in a new way, it can sound more like a usage error than a challenge to my unexamined notions. I had to do a little mental stutter-step the first couple of times I heard a gay friend talking about his husband. Until I realized, "Oh, I see — it's just the guy in a marriage, the same as it ever was."

But there has never been an age that was so quick or adept at making these adjustments. We spent the 1990s tacking "virtual" and "cyber" onto the names of what seemed like new kinds of things. Then we spent the next one taking the prefixes off again, as we realized that the new things were fundamentally the same as the old ones. "I have to get some e-money from my virtual bank so I can play cyber-poker" — that sounds so 1997. How long before "gay marriage" sounds equally quaint?
   848. The District Attorney Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:27 PM (#4404836)
Upon further contemplation of my own suggestion, one thing that occurs to me is that, if you're attempting to forestall further hostilities by demonstrating your historic new weapon, you better be ####### sure the thing works :-) I don't know if there was any real worry post-Trinity that there would somehow be a problem with the next one. But if there was, I suppose that's another reason why you'd want to have a few bombs before you try to use one as a demo. Losing another 30M soldiers or so per month, for a few months. I don't know.

My impression from McCullough's bio is that, although Truman (who didn't even know the bomb existed until he became President) appreciated the uniquely devastating nature of the bomb, it was never in question that as soon as it was ready, it was gonna get dropped on some people. There's no doubt that a President's main job in a war is to win the war with minimal loss of U.S. troops. I am just wondering where the line is. But they all feel that way, for sure. I'm reminded of Lincoln's thing that if he had to free none of the slaves to preserve the Union, then that's what he'd do, and if he had to free some of them, then that's what he'd do, and if he had to free all of them, then that's what he'd do.
   849. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:42 PM (#4404846)
My impression from McCullough's bio is that, although Truman (who didn't even know the bomb existed until he became President) appreciated the uniquely devastating nature of the bomb, it was never in question that as soon as it was ready, it was gonna get dropped on some people.

Yes, and I think people nowdays have a very hard time appreciating just how deeply everyone in the world except the Japanese warlords were extremely disgusted and exhausted by the war in 1945, and so very very ready for it to be over. No argument that favored intentionally delaying the war's end, even if by just a week or day, was going to be persuasive to anyone.
   850. BDC Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:53 PM (#4404850)
I cannot at all fathom the idea that atomic bombings were war crimes

The way the Japanese government put it, after Nagasaki, was that "a belligerent does not enjoy an unrestricted right in the choice of methods of attack." And this seems to be a valid principle, at least in practice. Poison gas was not used in the Second World War, and nuclear weapons have never been used since. There's some kind of line that even the most insane and inhuman regime will draw in some circumstances.

And of course there's just fear of retaliation, though I'm not sure that's 100% of what drives such restraint.
   851. BDC Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:00 PM (#4404852)
I don't know if there was any real worry post-Trinity that there would somehow be a problem with the next one

The bombs were of two different types. (Richard Rhodes's Making of the Atomic Bomb is one of the best histories ever written of anything, and discusses this difference in marvelously lucid terms for the general reader.) The Trinity and Nagasaki bombs were plutonium weapons that worked via a theoretically intricate system of "lenses" that reflected the chain reaction in on itself (as I understand it, and am open to correction). The Hiroshima bomb was a uranium "bullet" weapon that worked by shooting one part of its core through the other part, triggering the reaction. Los Alamos was so sure the Hiroshima bomb would work that they never tested it, they just built it.

One of the more amazing things about the Manhattan Project is that they not only invented the Bomb under enormous pressures of time and uncertainty, but they invented it twice.
   852. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4404854)
Poison gas was not used in the Second World War, and nuclear weapons have never been used since. There's some kind of line that even the most insane and inhuman regime will draw in some circumstances.


Poison gas is a good analogy. It was used robustly when it was first developed in WWI, but when people really got a look at what it did, "civilized" war outlawed it. I suspect there is no level of weapon that can be developed that wouldn't be tried at least once.
   853. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4404863)
(I was happy to let this die, but since Steve brought it back up ...)

#847 helps to prove that the definition of "marriage" is being changed. Otherwise, aside from the phrase "gay marriage" being redundant, what is or has been stopping gays from getting married if same-sex marriage already fits neatly within the established meaning of "marriage"?
   854. Publius Publicola Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:30 PM (#4404871)
The way the Japanese government put it, after Nagasaki, was that "a belligerent does not enjoy an unrestricted right in the choice of methods of attack."


This may be true in the abstract but by the time Japan made it, the state of hostilities was long past it. And Japan wasn't the most sympathetic of complainants either. First, they started the war by attacking prior to announcing a state of hostilities. Secondly, the way they treated civilians and prisoners was nothing short of sadistic. The enmity was so great between them and the Americans that any thoughts of compassionate leniency in the conduct of hostilities was long gone.

Thinking back, in both Germany and Japan, the fascist forces had such a firm grip on power that an attempt at a coup was almost sure to fail. Both had to be defeated from outside.

The Trinity and Nagasaki bombs were plutonium weapons that worked via a theoretically intricate system of "lenses" that reflected the chain reaction in on itself (as I understand it, and am open to correction).


"Fat Man" used a system of a controlled, simultaneous explosions that propelled the fissionable material to collide at the center, causing the chain reaction.
   855. Publius Publicola Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:35 PM (#4404876)
I suspect there is no level of weapon that can be developed that wouldn't be tried at least once.


Hmm, I don't know if this counts but the hydrogen bomb has never been used. And biological weapons have also never been used, at least in modern times and on a tactical scale, thought part of the reason is because the outcome of deployment could lead to a lot of blowback. I suppose lasers are another potential weapon that haven't been used yet, at least in terms of causing casualties by directly aiming them at an enemy target. The neutron bomb is possible to make but development has not occurred anywhere to the best of my knowledge.

Cyber attacks are taking place as we speak.
   856. Morty Causa Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:38 PM (#4404879)
Yes, and I think people nowdays have a very hard time appreciating just how deeply everyone in the world except the Japanese warlords were extremely disgusted and exhausted by the war in 1945, and so very very ready for it to be over. No argument that favored intentionally delaying the war's end, even if by just a week or day, was going to be persuasive to anyone.


Many servicemen at the time thought they had survived action in the European theater only to get killed in the proposed invasion of Japan. Everyone was sick and tired of the war. After the defeat of Germany, the feeling was that the defeat of Japan needed to be wrapped up quickly.

Moreover, under America's temporary but emphatic post-war occupation and governorship by General Douglas MacArthur Japan was forced to undergo a truly radical transformation, something the Japanese people and power elites would not have been amenable to had they not been so thoroughly defeated, had they not been forced to accept unconditional surrender. MacArthur's occupation of Japan is one of the most successful such ventures in history. And he entered Japan fully conceded to be its conqueror. I don't think that would have happened had the surrender terms been more relative and disputable.
   857. Morty Causa Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:44 PM (#4404883)
The enmity was so great between them and the Americans that any thoughts of compassionate leniency in the conduct of hostilities was long gone.


Which makes MacArthur's occupation and radical transformation of the country, one truly conducted without vengeance, all the more remarkable for its big-heartedness. It's a truly stunning American achievement.
   858. Lassus Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:47 PM (#4404884)
what is or has been stopping gays from getting married if same-sex marriage already fits neatly within the established meaning of "marriage"?

Paranoid bigotry.
   859. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4404888)
Paranoid bigotry.

Incorrect. For the above to be true, the only thing stopping gays from getting married would be bigoted county clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses, but we know that isn't true.*


(* There might be some individual county clerks who are bigoted, but they and their non-bigoted colleagues haven't been the singular roadblock to gay marriage.)
   860. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4404897)
And biological weapons have also never been used, at least in modern times and on a tactical scale, thought part of the reason is because the outcome of deployment could lead to a lot of blowback.


The Japanese used biological weapons pertty extensively in China. From Wikipedia:

Plague-infested fleas, bred in the laboratories of Unit 731 and Unit 1644, were spread by low-flying airplanes upon Chinese cities, coastal Ningbo in 1940, and Changde, Hunan Province, in 1941. This military aerial spraying killed thousands of people with bubonic plague epidemics.[22]
   861. Publius Publicola Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:14 PM (#4404898)
I stand corrected, SdeB. Thanks. I had forgotten about that.
   862. Publius Publicola Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:19 PM (#4404904)
Are you still using S.L.A. Marshall's work? Because that's been totally debunked.


It's not so much it being debunked as the findings are no longer valid, and haven't been for quite some time.

BTW, Hackworth is pretty rough on Marshall in About Face.
   863. Srul Itza Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:22 PM (#4404906)
Not to be snarky, but was there any other way to do this in law school, but outlining


Some people did it by using my outlines, which I freely shared.
   864. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:45 PM (#4404920)
Wrong thread.
   865. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4404926)
#847 helps to prove that the definition of "marriage" is being changed. Otherwise, aside from the phrase "gay marriage" being redundant, what is or has been stopping gays from getting married if same-sex marriage already fits neatly within the established meaning of "marriage"?

Depending on their religion, nothing. As I said earlier, gay people have been getting married for decades. (There was a "lesbian wedding" on Seinfeld, about as mainstream a show as you can find, in 1992.) What has lagged behind is government recognition of those marriages. But they are certainly "marriages" and everyone, even the bigots, knows what you mean when you call them that.
   866. Lassus Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:48 PM (#4404927)
Did anyone read Leitch's piece on Ebert? It was skin-crawling. I'm not even a big Ebert fan, my favorite sci-fi author announced his upcoming death so this Ebert thing hasn't really resonated at all with me. But Leitch's tale is basically Ebert treating him awesomely, Leitch being the dick internet writer he is, feeling terrible, and then being forgiven. I kinda feel like Ebert enabled him to still be that guy.

Maybe not. I'm biased against Deadspin. But even so, ick.
   867. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:08 PM (#4404934)
It's not so much it being debunked as the findings are no longer valid, and haven't been for quite some time.

BTW, Hackworth is pretty rough on Marshall in About Face.


Not really. It has been proven that he didn't do most of the interviews he claimed to. He based his "only 20% of soldiers fire their weapons" theory on extensive interviews which never happened.

Real interviews with combat veterans have shown that it's complete bullshit, and anyone who wouldn't fire in combat was highly likely to be fragged.

You know what induction at Parris Island is about? Really about? It has nothing to do with physical fitness, really. It's about turning men into killing machines. It's about moving people out of modern conditioning and past "thou shalt not kill." Even so, only something like 30% of active theater Marines fire their weapons *in firefights.* (Numbers are vaguely recalled from previous readings; I'd have to dig for the cite.)

Yet you want to pretend that once we turn men into murder-machines, which is *what boot camp is there to do*, that we can expect those same men to turn off the killing instinct on a dime. You have far too much blind faith in humanity, chief. That's not what the monkey does.


This is pretty much completely wrong as well. The point of basic training is to condition soldiers to obey orders, especially those that may seem insane, without undue questioning.

The last thing any military wants is "killing machines". A "killing machine" is uncontrollable; useless to a military organization. They want a unit that will respond as one being to the orders of its commanders.

BTW, don't repeat that nonsense around any actual Marines.
   868. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:10 PM (#4404937)
Poison gas is a good analogy. It was used robustly when it was first developed in WWI, but when people really got a look at what it did, "civilized" war outlawed it. I suspect there is no level of weapon that can be developed that wouldn't be tried at least once.

Which is very interesting because gas is a very humane weapon. Something like 90% of gas casualties were only wounded, not killed.

YOu much, much, much rather be on the receiving end of a gas barrage than a high explosive barrage. The banning of gas is an weird counterexample. They banned the more humane weapon b/c it was new.
   869. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:31 PM (#4404945)
Depending on their religion, nothing. As I said earlier, gay people have been getting married for decades. (There was a "lesbian wedding" on Seinfeld, about as mainstream a show as you can find, in 1992.) What has lagged behind is government recognition of those marriages. But they are certainly "marriages" and everyone, even the bigots, knows what you mean when you call them that.

How is a legally unrecognized marriage, in a state or country where a license is a precondition for marriage, "certainly" a marriage?

I don't believe the government should be involved in marriage, so I'd have no problem with the quoted scenario being true, but that's neither the reality in the U.S. right now nor the stated goal of the vast majority of proponents of gay marriage. (I'm not familiar with the lesbian wedding on Seinfeld, but I'm assuming it was mostly ceremonial and not legally recognized in New York or New Jersey or wherever it took place.)

It's kind of bizarre to see proponents of gay marriage simultaneously claim that anyone opposed to same-sex marriage is a bigot while also trying to reassure everyone that gay marriage won't open the door to polygamy. Instead of making the principled argument that consenting adults should be free to marry as they please, they're simply arguing for the line to be redrawn so that two-person same-sex marriage falls on the right side of it.
   870. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:34 PM (#4404947)
Which is very interesting because gas is a very humane weapon. Something like 90% of gas casualties were only wounded, not killed.


The people that banned it were the people who experienced it. It was bad enough to cause Hitler to blanche.
   871. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:48 PM (#4404955)
The people that banned it were the people who experienced it. It was bad enough to cause Hitler to blanche.

The difference was the experience of a weapon (the artillery shell) that killed most immediate recipients instantly, and maimed/injured the minority, versus a weapon (the mustard gas) that killed few immeditate recipients instantly, but caused ghastly illness and suffering to all.

There might be some wisdom to be found there.
   872. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:48 PM (#4404956)
The people that banned it were the people who experienced it. It was bad enough to cause Hitler to blanche.

I would think seeing someone blown to shreds by an HE shell would make one blanche too.

My guess is that it was new, and symbolic of the senseless slaughter of WWI, so got banned.

All I'm saying is there's no logical reason gas is worse than HE.

The difference was the experience of a weapon (the artillery shell) that killed most immediate recipients instantly, and maimed/injured the minority, versus a weapon (the mustard gas) that killed few immeditate recipients instantly, but caused ghastly illness and suffering to all.

There might be some wisdom to be found there.


Yes mustard gas cases experienced near term suffering, but most went on to live normal lives; even if their athletics careers were short. I'd much rather be gassed than have my legs blown off.

   873. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:07 PM (#4404960)
All I'm saying is there's no logical reason gas is worse than HE.

Well, IMO, there's no logical reason nuclear explosive is worse than HE either. They're all wicked. Dead is dead, maimed is maimed, suffering is suffering regardless of the chemistry of the agent.
   874. bigglou115 Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:54 PM (#4404973)
This was such a cheerier thread yesterday.
   875. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:11 AM (#4404981)
I'd much rather be gassed than have my legs blown off.


John Cleese would disagree.
   876. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:34 AM (#4404987)
*Later after testing a few of their own they came to a rather different appreciation of what nuclear weapons could do, but at war's end in 1945, Hiroshoma didn't look all that different than Dresden- or Tokyo.


I suspect this had a lot to do with it. From this distance, and especially with the vastly increased power of hydrogen versus atomic bombs, we see an enormous difference between conventional and nuclear weapons. At the time, though, how much difference was seen between the bombings of Tokyo and Dresden and Hiroshima?

If an officer stops and searches 10 or 15 young people, one or two of them will likely have a bit of marijuana. All police have arrest quotas and often they can earn much-desired overtime pay by making a marijuana arrest toward the end of a shift. In New York City, arresting people for petty offenses for overtime pay is called “collars for dollars.” Every cop in the city knows that expression. From the officers’ point of view, people possessing marijuana are highly desirable arrestees.


Which goes a long way towards explaining the extraordinary vigor with which cops and prosecutors defend ridiculous laws against possession of trivial amounts of pot.
   877. Steve Treder Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:44 AM (#4404989)
At the time, though, how much difference was seen between the bombings of Tokyo and Dresden and Hiroshima?

Essentially none, with very good reason. Judging the wisdom of military/political decisions made in mid-1945 based on the knowledge and perspective we enjoy in 2013 is a venture fraught with peril.
   878. Howie Menckel Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:51 AM (#4404991)
"It's kind of bizarre to see proponents of gay marriage simultaneously claim that anyone opposed to same-sex marriage is a bigot while also trying to reassure everyone that gay marriage won't open the door to polygamy. Instead of making the principled argument that consenting adults should be free to marry as they please, they're simply arguing for the line to be redrawn so that two-person same-sex marriage falls on the right side of it."

I think this is quite debatable, but I would hope that a late-night east coast post by a poster who is not terribly popular with the left doesn't mean that someone won't challenge the claim here. Clearly a lot of people have this opinion, so clarifying the logical flaw would be instructive.

   879. zenbitz Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:52 AM (#4404992)

So, here's how it is. All war is barely more than murder. It is hard to justify any WWII era attacks on civilians and cities, but that being said the Atomic Bombing was no worse than anything else.
The fact that some weapons are banned and some are not is totally preposterous. Weapons that throw bits of jagged metal around can maim and slowly kill you by torture just as well as radiation poisoning, anthrax or gas.

Lots of preposterous things are banned by Geneva convention. For example, it's against the GC to fire an anti-tank or anti-aircraft gun at infantry targets.

The only valid moral calculus the Allies can make in WWII over firebombing (nuclear or otherwise) is whether or not it would reduce the sum total human suffering (presumably by ending the war quicker).
And I echo the other sentiments regarding Unconditional Surrender. You can't say "we had to drop the A-bomb, otherwise we would have lost a million soldiers invading or starved 30 million japanese". Unconditional Surrender is YOUR terms. You bear the responsibility of setting your conditions for peace, and if the price is too high, it's too high.

   880. spike Posted: April 05, 2013 at 01:20 AM (#4404995)
Unconditional Surrender is YOUR terms

You don't endure the suffering of a WWII to negotiate a surrender with the regimes that started it.
   881. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 05, 2013 at 02:32 AM (#4404998)
I'm amazed at how much I agree with snapper over the last hundred posts. I'm also at least a little surprised that anyone would argue that we shouldn't try, during war, to remain as human as we possibly can. That doesn't mean giving an inch, and it doesn't mean increasing our chance of defeat, but we must try to remain human even during war. Especially during war.


Yes, but the question is why isn't intentionally dropping bombs civilians to kill and terrorize them (there was no pretense of aiming at factories in the British firebombing of Germany, or the US firebombing of Japan) inherently criminal.

For the same reason that sending an army to invade their country isn't, or a submarine to sink their commercial shipping isn't. There are no partial declarations - the entirety of a country is at war.

?

Why pretend this is true? We all know it isn't, just as we know that firebombing Dresden is very different from bombing a munitions factory.

---------

I originally had nothing but contempt for Mr. Ebert's middlebrow reviewing style. He seemed unaware of aspect ratios and that there was more than one kind of film stock, but in time his warm, humanistic approach to feeling (I don't know that he 'saw' films as much as he felt them, and I don't mean that as any kind of insult) a movie won me over. I'll miss his writing and his good heart.

---------

Did anyone else notice that Ebert's average rating seemed to increase over time, to the point where he found it difficult to genuinely dislike a film? It never bothered me, it's just that he seemed extremely generous as he aged. Maybe that's the way to be.

   882. BrianBrianson Posted: April 05, 2013 at 02:48 AM (#4405000)
Essentially none, with very good reason. Judging the wisdom of military/political decisions made in mid-1945 based on the knowledge and perspective we enjoy in 2013 is a venture fraught with peril.


This, more or less. I think if snapper et al.'s premises were reasonable; their conclusions would follow. But they're wildly fanciful, so the conclusions don't follow. If we could have restricted attacks in a way that avoided all civilian casualities, we should have. But it was essentially wholly impossible, (or at least, if we wanted to go that way, we should have just outright surrendered, since the outcome would've been the same and the casualties less) and so we can't use the conclusions. Sure, Allied victory was probably inevitable by sometime in 1943, because we had way more resources to bring to bare. But if we held ourselves to a standard where attacks were made only when we were sure civilian casualties would be negligible, it's not at all clear the allies would've been in a "surely going to win" position, because a lot of the resource advantage would effectively not exist if we didn't press it.

Killing civilians (or captured soldiers) for shits and giggles should be rightly regarded as a war crime. What went down at Nanking is not okay. And yes, American and Commonwealth soldiers got in on it too, though on smaller scales + writing the history books makes it harder to name specifics. But the marginal calculation of "How many incidental civilian casualties are too many?" is much dirtier, and pretending we had way more control of that than we did doesn't help anything. If the choice really was fly high, bomb things nearly at random, and be safe, or fly low, bomb just your target, and take a bit of risk, you could maybe make that argument. But since the actual choice was fly high, bomb things nearly at random, and be at some risk, or fly low, get shot down without bombing anything, and leave the Germans with the tools to crunch Britain, you need to evaluate that choice.

And to some extent, I'm not sure there's a huge moral line between civilians and soldiers when the soldiers are mostly all forced to be soldiers anyways. In an era of volunteer, professional armies (or feudal, professional armies, say), the distinction makes a lot of sense. But I don't see much of a real moral basis for distinguishing between killing people who had no real choice in the matter.
   883. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 05, 2013 at 03:10 AM (#4405001)
All I'm saying is there's no logical reason gas is worse than HE.


There is a logical reason, namely that gas is more likely to result in collateral damage. In theory, a well-aimed HE will do extremely predictable damage. Gas, less so.

Well, IMO, there's no logical reason nuclear explosive is worse than HE either. They're all wicked. Dead is dead, maimed is maimed, suffering is suffering regardless of the chemistry of the agent.


All are indeed wicked, but the same reasoning applies. A nuclear explosion is extremely indiscriminate compared to HE. While you'll get some collateral damage with high explosives aimed at, say, industrial and military targets in and around NYC, aiming at those same targets with nuclear weapons will simply kill everyone.

Thinking back, in both Germany and Japan, the fascist forces had such a firm grip on power that an attempt at a coup was almost sure to fail. Both had to be defeated from outside.


Either that or von Stauffenberg should have made sure the bomb was on the other side of the table leg.

There's no doubt that a President's main job in a war is to win the war with minimal loss of U.S. troops. I am just wondering where the line is. But they all feel that way, for sure. I'm reminded of Lincoln's thing that if he had to free none of the slaves to preserve the Union, then that's what he'd do, and if he had to free some of them, then that's what he'd do, and if he had to free all of them, then that's what he'd do.


This suggests that if Lincoln could have preserved the Union by agreeing to an indefinite continuation of slavery, he would have. I don't believe that's true. Am I misreading you?

The neutron bomb is possible to make but development has not occurred anywhere to the best of my knowledge.


The U.S. has developed at least two types (possibly more) of neutron bombs. Some Brit recently proposed using them in Afghanistan. There's always some loon in government who loves the idea of using neutron bombs since their energy manifests in radiation rather than explosive power. Kill the people, leave the buildings standing. Of course, Carter stopped their production, and of course Reagan continued it.

Iirc, a lot of opposition developed to the Reagan admin's development of the neutron bomb on the ground that that lot was crazy enough to use it. It was thought to lower the threshold of use for an administration, some of whose members didn't think nukes were all that much to worry about, given how easy it was to defend youself against a nuclear blast. Bury yourself under a few feet of earth shoveled over a couple of doors, bring a sandwich, and hang loose until the all clear sounds.

----------------------

edit:
This, more or less. I think if snapper et al.'s premises were reasonable; their conclusions would follow. But they're wildly fanciful, so the conclusions don't follow. If we could have restricted attacks in a way that avoided all civilian casualities, we should have,


snapper's not arguing this (I don't think). No one here is arguing this.

   884. BrianBrianson Posted: April 05, 2013 at 06:50 AM (#4405017)
Yes, I was a being slightly lazy (and thus a little bit unfair). Instead of "all", I should say "way, way, way more than was feasible without punting on trying to win the war." I think the question of how it's more ethical to round up three hundred thousand American teenage boys, give them a gun and a uniform, thereby magically transforming them from civilians to soldiers, and send them to Japan to die, than it is kill three hundred thousand Japanese civilians (well, and soldiers in some ratio I don't know - doesn't matter). I don't see it.
   885. Lassus Posted: April 05, 2013 at 07:10 AM (#4405019)
I think this is quite debatable, but I would hope that a late-night east coast post by a poster who is not terribly popular with the left doesn't mean that someone won't challenge the claim here. Clearly a lot of people have this opinion, so clarifying the logical flaw would be instructive.

The point was made, at least once and probably more and then ignored just as many times that polygamy frequently pushes and then rather often completely ignores consent, both for the adults and the minors forced into it. It has been shown over and over in many cases as both an exploitative and harmful circumstance for the wives and children. Polygamy also does not single out a particular group to be shuttered for being who they genetically are. If you want to go from there to start yelling for the choice of Mormonism (Upstate New York represent!), polygamy was verboten before they even started.

The focus on the slippery-slope "logical flaw" is one of many tiresome points that can be put in the same pot with OMG THE WORD THE WOORRRRRD!!! crap. There are tangible reasons why polygamy is on society's shitlist, none of which applies - or should apply, at least - in the slightest to gay marriage.
   886. The District Attorney Posted: April 05, 2013 at 08:56 AM (#4405055)
Yeah, no one is saying that all civilian death is unacceptable. And no one is saying that unintentional civilian death is unacceptable, if it is in fact unintentional. At least in these WWII examples, we are talking about something totally different: The missions were designed to wipe out the civilian populations of large cities.

I see people seemingly honestly arguing that all war should be total war and there are no war crimes, and yet I really can't help thinking that's it's an attempt to be more cynical than thou. Can you seriously believe that? If your brain was able to let that conclusion in, I doubt I can talk you out of it, but good lord, that's horrible and I couldn't disagree more.

This suggests that if Lincoln could have preserved the Union by agreeing to an indefinite continuation of slavery, he would have. I don't believe that's true. Am I misreading you?
Well, it's what he said, anyway. I guess he was a good enough guy that I'll give him the benefit of his actual wording.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.
   887. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:01 AM (#4405058)
This suggests that if Lincoln could have preserved the Union by agreeing to an indefinite continuation of slavery, he would have. I don't believe that's true. Am I misreading you?


Well if you listen to Lincoln there are two rather famous things he said about it. He said that officially he must save the Union above all else; personally he wanted to free all the slaves.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free


Of course he also believed that the nation could not stand half slave and half free:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.


EDIT: Giant Lincoln sized Coke to DA.
   888. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:11 AM (#4405067)
Regarding the morality of actions in war. War is a horrific enterprise and I was against Iraq (for example) from before the start of the war because it is so. A second point is that the past is a different place, judging actions in hindsight over the past decades is important to do to avoid making the mistakes of the past but it is also fraught with unfair judgements.

I think it is very legit to debate dropping "the bomb", but personally I tend to side with the 'apologists'. I think it a bit too easy to, in the comfort of today, suggest there were other better actions they could take in the moment. This is not the same as saying they were perfect men always doing the right thing.

Every war has war crimes (whether acknowledged or not), it is one of the many reasons to avoid war. Picking out which horrific action is a crime and which is not from 50+ years awaywithout a huge amount of work is suspect, though clearly those things thought of as war crimes at the time are much easier to accept as such. The trouble with that being contemporaneous war crimes get tagged to the losers much more often than the winners (for obvious reasons).
   889. BDC Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:24 AM (#4405072)
how much difference was seen between the bombings of Tokyo and Dresden and Hiroshima?

Essentially none


In some analyses, none, and to many people, Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, and other sites of intense conventional bombing had a specially horrific quality. But don't forget John Hersey's Hiroshima, which is still such a powerful book in impressing the unique qualities of that bombing on its readers. It may have been "merely" psychological, but the idea that a single plane at a great height could appear more-or-less silently and inflict a huge raid's worth of destruction in an instant was a new thing.
   890. Morty Causa Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:29 AM (#4405075)
   891. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4405078)
Did anyone read Leitch's piece on Ebert? It was skin-crawling. I'm not even a big Ebert fan, my favorite sci-fi author announced his upcoming death so this Ebert thing hasn't really resonated at all with me. But Leitch's tale is basically Ebert treating him awesomely, Leitch being the dick internet writer he is, feeling terrible, and then being forgiven. I kinda feel like Ebert enabled him to still be that guy.


I read it back when he wrote it. It's an uncomfortable piece to read, and young Leitch was a jerk, but I will give him some credit for acknowledging that he acted like an ####### and being ashamed about it.

It does paint Ebert in a pretty good light, and right now I don't think we can have too many stories about Ebert being a nice guy.
   892. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:40 AM (#4405080)
good read morty, thanks
   893. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4405081)
my favorite sci-fi author announced his upcoming death


Iain Banks is dying? That sucks.

Christ, I didn't even realize until now that Iain Banks and Iain M. Banks were the same guy.

I've never read any of his SF, but The Wasp Factory is a quality novel.
   894. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4405086)
Oh, I'm sure *this* will end well ...


The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.

In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.

Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.

Officials are also encouraging lenders to use more subjective judgment in determining whether to offer a loan and are seeking to make it easier for people who owe more than their properties are worth to refinance at today’s low interest rates, among other steps.


Link
   895. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4405087)
good read morty, thanks


Agreed.
   896. Morty Causa Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:59 AM (#4405089)
Arguably, Dresden and Hiroshima were also justified on the that's how you go after cancer theory. Except for a few cancers (like CML), you attack cancer through carpet bombing (especially then). That means the good goes with the bad for a while. If there are more precision methods that are as effective with less side effect and less costly, they should take precedent if possible--but always bear in mind that delay and ineffectiveness mean lives. War isn’t so much about worrying about not killing people—sorry. And in the end, why should a German or a Japanese civilians life be worth more than that of your own citizens serving, who are draftees probably? Why should they take all the risks?
   897. GregD Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4405094)
Well, it's what he said, anyway. I guess he was a good enough guy that I'll give him the benefit of his actual wording.


People misread this all the time, even professional historians, so there are three really important things to take into account about the letter:

1) The background: Lincoln was offered the Crittenden Compromise--end secession by guaranteeing the right of slavery to expand in the West below the Missouri Compromise line, and Lincoln rejected it categorically and told congressional Republicans to kill it, which they did. (He said he had no opinion one way or the other about a proposed 13th Amendment that guaranteed the federal government would not end slavery in the states, since he thought that was already implicit in the constitution, so some Republicans voted for that, but that wasn't enough to save any Confederate states from seceding.)

2) The 1862 context: Lincoln says he would save the Union without freeing a slave if he could, but by the time he wrote it he had already signed and enforced the Confiscation acts which freed tens of thousands of slaves, and had already said unambiguously that anyone freed once by the Army could never be re-enslaved, so they were legally free. So you have to read his words with some irony since he is not describing a policy option he is taking--he has already freed lots of slaves by the time he writes the letter.

3) The August 1862 context: Lincoln had already drafted the Emancipation Proclamation when he wrote the letter. He had put it in his desk, at Seward's suggestion, to await a victory before issuing it, so it wouldn't be taken as a sign of weakness, and he issued the preliminary proclamation right after Antietam. So as he's writing this, he knows he's written the proclamation (and received Cabinet support for it) but Greeley doesn't know.

4) Lincoln's post-1862 actions, when he refused to talk about peace with the commissioners unless they pledged to end slavery. There were times when he could have supported a peace at any price policy and explicitly rejected union unless it included abolition, post-1862.

Once you take the view that the letter--by itself--can't provide the Rosetta Stone for his innermost thoughts but has to be read in light of his other words and actions, then you have to ask what he meant. The most common interpretation by historians who follow the sequence is that Lincoln wrote the letter purposely to draw abolitionist criticism so that when he issued the proclamation (in what turned out to be weeks later but could have been days) he would look like a moderate. Other interpretations are possible, but they have to draw upon the context and sequence, not on a belief that this one letter provides the ur-text.
   898. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4405099)
That's very persuasive, Greg.
   899. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4405103)
Arguably, Dresden and Hiroshima were also justified on the that's how you go after cancer theory. Except for a few cancers (like CML), you attack cancer through carpet bombing (especially then). That means the good goes with the bad for a while. If there are more precision methods that are as effective with less side effect and less costly, they should take precedent if possible--but always bear in mind that delay and ineffectiveness mean lives. War isn’t so much about worrying about not killing people—sorry. And in the end, why should a German or a Japanese civilians life be worth more than that of your own citizens serving, who are draftees probably? Why should they take all the risks?

Another way of putting that is this: They started it. We finished it. Next?

And in the context of the total war that was being waged between 1931 and 1945, I can't say that I'd have an answer I could have given to the widows and families of any American soldiers whose lives might have been lost in an invasion of Japan. Truman's primary job was to protect American lives and end the war as quickly as possible.

I also think Morty makes a good point in #856 about the long range good that came from holding out for unconditional surrender in the period of Japan's reconstruction.
   900. Morty Causa Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4405111)
Another way of putting that is this: They started it. We finished it. Next?


You asked for it; you're going to get it.
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