SocraticGadfly: 8/4/19 - 8/11/19

August 09, 2019

Assange, Seth Rich, Russian election meddling
and other whataboutism gap, part 2

I'm sure that, even with the Mueller collapse before Congress, some of the usual whataboutism folks on Seth Rich in particular and Assange's connections with Russia, more broadly, and Russian general interference in 2016 elections, most broadly, will bray from the rooftops that this is all a fake.

That would be, per Jeff St. Clair of Counterpunch, the "more credulous precincts of the Left."
To which, I quoted from the Tweeting of Jeff St. Clair I had done earlier in the day, starting with the background of and link to what St. Clair said:
Followed by this quote, which I later sent to the "more credulous precincts of the Left":
Followed by the other half of the quote:
There you go.
(Sadly, St. Clair, along with managing editor Joshua Frank, have crappy editorial control in general over free[lance] submissions that they publish, as he's let his own site fuel this bullshit.)

The "more credulous precincts" of the left is delusional indeed if they're citing Ty Clevenger, and saying that Isikoff was trying to get out in front of him. But they are:
And, if just 1/10th of this CNN exclusive about Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy is true, even though it doesn't mention Seth Rich, the "more credulous precincts" will have to double or triple down on that.

First, the timetable issues. Assange receiving new computer equipment shortly before the original, early 2016 hacks from the DNC.

Second, the fact the embassy gave Assange power to censor names from visit logs would explain why at least one visitor wore a bag over his head.

I have noticed that more credulous precincts of the left haven't talked much about the CNN piece, at least not on my Twitter.

Is there anything illegal with wearing a bag over one's head to visit the embassy? Of course not. But in London, the world's capital of government surveillance video, it's surely being done for a reason.

And, as I have said before, the RNC reported a mix of successful and unsuccessful hacks against its computers in 2016. GOP Congresscritter Michael McCaul publicly admitted it until the RNC hauled him on the carpet. Comey publicly discussed it. The Seth Rich conspiracy theorists, and the Assange whatabouters who try to avoid going explicitly down that road, generally maintain tight radio silence on this issue. (And, by this point? Ignorance is no excuse. Others besides me have mentioned this, too.

IF (and this is a big if), Assange had ties to Russian intelligence, when did they start? IF 1/10th of the information at the CNN piece is true, how much did it connect to the Assange indictment? Was that behind the pending indictment six months ago on initial leak?

Removing 100 hard drives, with the help of persons who Assange had gotten the Embassy to guarantee could not be searched, doesn't look good either.

If 1/10th of this is true ...

As for claims (yes, affecting the case, but legally unsubstantiated one way or the other) that the Internet Research Agency isn't directly connected to Russia? Aaron Mate waved this like a flag.

And Big Fucking Deal. China's Red Army makes the same claim all the time about its hackers. Do you believe that, too, Aaron? If you really do, I've got beachfront property in Wyoming to sell you.

And, are you also pretending that Russia's extended cyberwar against Estonia a decade didn't happen? Or are you going to claim Russia didn't do that?

The one possible alternative that I would accept as credible is that the IRA is connected to Russian organized crime, not the government, per Sy Hersh's theory on the Skripal poisonings.


Meanwhile, it appears that a high percentage of Seth Rich conspiracy theorists are also TulsiTwerkers.

Update, Dec. 9, 2020: The fact that RNC computers as well as DNC ones were hacked undercuts the Seth Rich leaker thing right there. Unfortunately, for a while, I listened too much to bullshit artists like Aaron Maté (you ARE, on this, Aaron, shut up!) who said "cloud computing" and "mirrors" etc. were no substitute for the real thing. Well, when you use cloud servers, Aaron, that IS the real thing. If you're that much of a gasligher, you too can go fuck yourself along with Clevenger. If you're that much of an idiot, again, shut up. Ditto for anybody else repeating that nonsense.

August 08, 2019

Black Agenda Report drinks the Tulsi Gabbard Kool-Aid

BAR is usually better than this, and often MUCH better than this.

It's run a puff piece on Tulsi Gabbard's lawsuit against Google. I've taken the lawsuit as semi-frivolous from the start, and had planned to write nothing, but knowing that a number of left-liberal and leftist political friends follow BAR, decided to knock something out after all.

And hence, I'll answer BAR's bullet points.

* Google has monopolistic control of online searches and related advertising.
Not true. On the search side, Bing and DuckDuckGo both immediately popped into my head. So did Ixquick, which aggregates from Google, Bing and other search engines. I don’t know if Bing, for Microsoft, sells any advertising versus its search results. But the results are there.

* At a critical moment Google undercut the Tulsi Gabbard campaign.
Well, maybe it was critical … but is she winning? And, we don't know it was critical or not. Several of the backbencher candidates have gotten small bounces, then faded again.

* Google has failed to provide a credible explanation. 
Well, maybe so, maybe not. Its last explanation is as credible as the Treasury putting caps on cash bank deposits and withdrawals. You or I may not agree with that, but it is a thing. And (I don't know if it's true or not) Daily Stormer has claimed it juiced donations to her. That would certainly, if it is true, lead Google to act. (OTOH, Citizens United claims [wrongly] that political money equals speech, and this may be the ultimate fallout.)

There's two additional funny-sads from this.
1. Stormer appears to be dumb enough to be drinking the Tulsi Kool-Aid rather than recognizing she has one foot in the neocon world.
2. Gabbard denounces racism even as the traditional Hindu caste system is quasi-racist and definitely bigoted and discriminatory.

* Google has a corporate profit motive to oppose Tulsi Gabbard.
Tulsi is far and away from being the only Democratic candidate to question tech companies. Now we’re starting to get more into Kool-Aid land.

* Google's Actions have caused significant harm to the Gabbard campaign and violate the U.S. and California constitutions and California business law. 
I doubt it, on either of the constitutions, and certainly not the federal one. Some where in the TOU on the advertising side, Google’s lawyers have all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. Might make for a nice Tulsi fundraiser to push the suit, but in reality?

* Google Secretly Manipulates Public Opinion
So does Facebook, and even more so. Has Tulsi stopped posting to Facebook? Stopped buying Facebook ads?

* Google is Censoring Alternative Media 

This is true, with the caveat that actual censorship is something only governments do.

The real issue is that, per the idea that Google has a corporate motive to oppose Tulsi AND ONLY Tulsi (implied), BAR seems to be drinking the Kool-Aid that Gabbard, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, supporter of Israel's Zionist  party line, defender of drone warfare and more, is a uniquely anti-establishment candidate.


Update, Sept. 1: Google shows me that, before he died, Bruce Dixon said Tulsi would be a Democratic sheepdogger. Unfortunately, this Danny Haiphong guy at BAR appears to be a serial and serious drinker of the Tulsi Kool-Aid. And he's not even black.

Update, Sept. 2: BAR doubles down on the Tulsi Kool-Aid, calling her the one Democratic anti-war candidate. Reality? She's an Islamophobic who is NOT pro-peace and NOT anti-war. Remember, as I reported six months ago, she is PRO drone war.

Texas state climatologist says: "Wake up, jackasses"

John Nielsen-Gammon spoke at a climate change event in Waco recently. The fact that such an event was organized and held in Waco is sign enough that it's moved at least partway out of wingnut territory, as hard as some people may find that to believe.

And, he laid the wood down about how serious the problem is. He said most of the state is averaging about 0.6 percent F per decade, that this is outside the range of natural variability, and that even a study funded by the Koch Bros. showed some of this. BOOM.

Now, the hammer, part 1. For a variety of reasons, Texas ain't prepared for this, plus the increased rain that's only likely to continue to grow, on average, in the  eastern two-thirds of the state:
Nielsen-Gammon said 100-degree days are increasing at twice the rate in urban areas than in semi-urban or rural areas, but that trend can be changed with sustainable building practices. The problem is that right now the infrastructure in place was not built to withstand the current weather. 
“We have infrastructure that’s designed to deal with extreme events, and it’s not designed to be fail-safe, but it’s designed to fail rarely,” he said. “Right now, when we design infrastructure, we design it for the historical probabilities. Historical probabilities are somewhere between the 1900 curve and the 2017 curve, so we’re already literally behind the curve.”
Well, there you go. So, you builders? Ignore the wingnuts in the Texas Lege. 

You residents? If you're buying a new home, look to who the developer is. Then go to the Texas Ethics Commission and the Federal Elections Commission and see who they give campaign money to.

Now, the hammer, part 2:
“It’s the fact that temperatures are going to continue to rise that’s actually going to cause the ecosystems of the planet to experience something they haven’t experienced for 100,000 years,” he said. “With even further projections, it’s something they haven’t experienced in 3 million years.”
THREE MILLION YEARS. Got that, Texans? 

August 07, 2019

Texas progressives talk Dem Debate 2, climate, Bonnen, more

The Texas Progressives condemn racism in all of its forms, while also condemning Trump Train riders who try to pull the "No true Scotsman" philosophical argument about alleged mass murderer Patrick Crusius. With that sad news, followed 24 hours later by a second mass shooting (while also noting overall gun violence rates seem to be declining in America) we give you this week's Roundup.

Debates/Tulsi Twerking

Mondoweiss notes that Israel and Palestine wasn't on the second set of debates, meaning Tulsi dodged explaining away her vote FOR AIPAC and AGAINST BDS. Unfortunately, one of its contributors drinks a full glass of the Tulsi Kool-Aid.

SocraticGadfly writes about all that this week when he calls out the cult of the #TulsiTwerkers. Let's make that hashtag trend, folks.

Brains has a semi hard-on or something for Tulsi after the debate.
The Assad bullshit is exactly that, and so is the ad hominem of her upbringing by religious homophobes.
The Assad angle from DNC regulars might be bullshit. The nuanced take that Assad ain't an angel of light isn't. Because he ain't. And, with her, it ain't just Assad. It's Sisi and others she has met with.

And, speaking of religious homophobes? First, given that Hawaiian LGBTQ groups still don't fully trust her (I wouldn't either, dude), it's not an ad hominem to bring it up.

Otherwise, you're going to ignore her Hindutva Hindu fascism? Her Islamophobia? And her vote just a week ago?
Tulsi Gabbard -- the focus of Bernie-ish hate from the establishment -- will be, I sincerely hope, Secretary of Defense in a Sanders Administration
NOOOOOOO! Three years ago, when we both talked about how Bernie was weak on foreign policy and such, I thought you were insightful on national politics, and not just because we agreed. You pointed out the occasional thing I hadn't thought of.

I still thought that two years ago, pretty much. But, even before you first came on strong for Gabbard, and not just because of our final social media dust-up, I was questioning bits of your political insight, and more than bits of non-political thoughts.

David Bruce Collins scattershoots what he saw from Twitter takes on the debates, along with melting Greenland and other issues. He, like Brains, likes Tulsi.

In the bigger picture, while not every stereotype about the MSM is true, refusal to ask Israel/Palestine questions just after the HRes 246 vote shows many of the stereotypes ARE true.

I had three ways of playing this section.

One is to have ignored Brains, still a TPA member though not a weekly contributor, for a full year. (I still look at his blog to see if something is worth posting). Ditto on ignoring DBC, who is not a member, but whom Brains hunted up when he WAS an active member himself more regularly than he does now. (I've posted David in roundups 2x as much in the last six months as Brains.)

The second was to post everything except my blog post in a separate post and link to it. I debated, but decided I wanted the focus here. I thought surely David, at least, would think twice after Gabbard's pro-AIPAC vote, but I guess not.

So, this is option three for now. Option 3A includes seeing what either of them says down the road, including how Brains frames my submission for this week, then doing a follow-up with THAT in a separate post.

 Dos Centavos is ready for the Democratic Presidential field to be winnowed down.

Bonnen and Mucus

House Dems want Mucus Sullivan to release the recording of his talk with Speaker Dennis Bonnen. OTOH, the Snooze reports that many Republicans fear the tape's release would lead to mutual destruction within the GOP.

And now Bonnen has blinked.

And, it turns out he was throwing both Dems and some fellow Republicans under the bus.

As per others, I'm puzzled as to why he met Mucus in the first place on such a situation, and why he didn't assume in advance Mucus was taping him.

The House General Investigating Committee is going to take a look at the mess. Will it subpoeana Mucus about the tape, if he hasn't released the full thing to the public? (Remember, he's sponsored James O'Keefe type stuff in the past.)

And, Aug. 9, Dallas-area state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, reportedly named on the tape, sued Sullivan individually and an "unknown named political committee," (presumably Empower Texas?), to get it released.

As for the result? He WILL face a Speakership challenge, assuming of course that Dems don't capture a House majority. (If that happens, he'll never be Speaker again.) He'll survive, by reaching across the aisle, but the price of survival will be higher.

As for the issue in parentheses? The bigger picture issue is how does this affect the Texas GOP brand in the state House? And, how much worse might Mucus make that if he decides to try to primary some urban-area moderate-conservative for Texas Republican House members?

As for House wingnuts, not to mention their Senate counterparts, thinking Bonnen is too Dem-cozy? Well, two of the 16 state Senate committees have Democritter chairs. True, Whitmire and Lucio are ConservaDems, but still. But, the big deal is that Bonnen, like Straus, reflects a traditional, as in pre-Danny Goeb as Lite Guv, degree of bipartisanship in House committee operations; the Trib has more.


Kenny Marchant, who moved from Dallas County Commissioners Court hack to Congressional hack, has followed Mike Conaway, Pete Olsen and Will Hurd and is the fourth GOP Congresscritter not to run for re-election. Shifting Texas demographics plus the Trump boar anchor explain all but Conaway. In Marchant's case, the demographics is part of why he bailed on his commissioner's seat, too. That said, the first Rethug rushing to try to replace him is far worse.

Off the Kuff reacted to Rep. Will Hurd's announcement that he was stepping down from Congress.

Hurd decided to go out on the high note of a nice Republican lie, or turd (it rhymes!), claiming he wanted to make the GOP more diverse by stepping down. Yeah, the only black Rethug in the House leaving it does that how? (Would-be answer that Hurd won't mention: By becoming a lobbyist.)

Looks like DPS ain't fully listening to Gov. Strangeabbott's pleas for a continued hard line on marijuana.

Grits for Breakfast finds the irony in the arrest of DPS' former chief of intelligence.

Plaintiffs settled their bail lawsuit with Harris County. The Texas Observer looks at what it might mean beyond the county's limits. Grits also weighs in.

Texas counties buying new voting machines aren't necessarily buying more secure ones.

The TSTA Blog stands up for the idea of a state income tax.


Jim Schutze talks about why businesses don't move south of the Trinity.

Schutze also asks why does the Snooze allow so much crime outside its windows?

Stephen Young notes how the Snooze slouches further toward Gomorrah.


The city GLBT Caucus decided to endorse Sly Turner for re-election as mayor, but not after a fair amount of contentiousness.

Nonsequiteuse is treasure hunting in the Houston campaign finance reports.


Paradise in Hell wrote what is now a museum piece about the DNI Director that wasn't.

August 06, 2019

Top blogging for July

These aren't necessarily posts from July, but they got the most reader interest in the last 30 days.

My saying that the atrocious Bladensberg Cross ruling, not the gerrymandering case, tops the bad Supreme Court rulings of this term was No. 1.

No. 2 was my speculation about a Joe Straus vs Greg Abbott GOP presidential primary in 2022.

Writing about how Madcow Maddow was more right than wrong on Bernie and GUNZ was No. 3.

A Texas Legislature fairy tale about Drew and Pat's semi-excellent road trip was fourth.

Word-painting about the Simon and Garfunkel-like urban quietude that real climate change battling would bring was No. 5.

Written at the end of the month on July 29, but moving up the list to No. 6 as of yesterday? My calling out of the cult of the #TulsiTwerkers. (Let's get that hashtag trending!)

No. 7 and No. 10 are related and even later. They're about the St. Louis Cardinals refusing to make an MLB trade deadline move, at tenth, and head-faking with some craptaculartude semi-salary dump and full-on just taking a dump on fans in seventh.

In eighth is my piece on Greens, Libertarians, smaller third parties and independents suing the state of Texas over various ballot access issues, given an opening in part by Drew Springer's HB 2504.

The ninth spot goes to my latest round in deconstructing the myth vs reality of Sema Hernandez, related to both her 2018 run for the Senate and her re-run for 2020.

Downfall: Refuting leftist lies on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

First, yes, I can be almost as blunt about fellow leftist types (I'm a leftist, or at least a far-left left-liberal) as I can about wingnuts. And, yes, I believe most leftists who think the war against Japan could have been won about as easily and quickly without atomic bombs are not just engaging in wishful thinking, they're lying.

I don't like writing such things. But, as is shown below, the idea that Hiroshima was:
1. Uniquely evil
2. Easily avoidable (especially in senses beyond the purely psychological of making a different decision)
3. And thus should have been easily avoided

Are simply not true.

Often, this goes hand in hand with other lies of omission, commission, or both. Among these are the claim that the Red Army is what caused Japan to surrender when, instead, Hirohito's Imperial rescript specifically mentions the bomb.

With that, read on.

Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire

Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire by Richard B. Frank
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Richard Frank conclusively shatters a number of myths about the end of the Pacific side of World War II.

First, Japan was NOT ready to accept unconditional surrender, even with the caveat of the preservation of the Japanese throne, until after both bombs were dropped. Frank uses extensive declassified transcripts of Ultra (military) and Magic (diplomatic) U.S. codebreaking to get members of the Japanese war cabinet's own words, or lack thereof, on this issue. Within that is the fact that Japan's attempt to use Russia as an intermediary-ally in negotiations was totally out of tune with reality, so much out of tune that Tokyo actually expected Moscow to honor the full one year's "down time" after abrogating the two countries' neutrality agreement.

Second, the Japanese Army was ramping UP the plans for Keisu-Go, the all-out defense of the Japanese homeland, after the spring firebombings of Tokyo and elsewhere. Top Army brass considered that the U.S. might well try blockade, and thought it had enough kamikazes, midget submarines, etc., to make the U.S pay enough a price for even the blockade that it would settle for a negotiated peace. Again, Frank looks in-depth at Magic and Ultra transcripts to show how much support there was for this.

Third, Frank demonstrates that U.S. casualty fears of an invasion of Kyushu were well-warranted and may even have been understated in some cases.

The determination of the Japanese Empire to resist was well-known by American troops in the Pacific who had seen the Japanese, on average, take 97 percent casualties in many of their defensive actions. A militaristic government was ready to exploit this to the death.

The atomic bomb was therefore used for reasons of the highest seriousness. It was NOT dropped on Hiroshima as a demonstration for Stalin. And, speaking of demonstrations, the fact that it took two atomic bombs on Japan to get it to surrender puts the lie to the idea that a "demonstration" bomb would have been enough to get the Japanese to a non-negotiated surrender with them attempting to hold on to territory.

(And, how "one," like Alex Wellerstein, can write an entire blog about nuclear security issues, and partially pontificate about options to the bombs in general, and apparently not even have read Frank's book [I know, I searched his blog], I "don't know." He does admit the bombs weren't that much worse than Dresden, Tokyo, etc., and also indicates he's young enough some of this seems kind of academic to him. Also to his positive, he says that a word like "justified" is not the right word. However, in that last link, he ignores what the Imperial Rescript says and claims that Russian intervention was a bigger shock. It's in this last link where Frank's book is most relevant of probably any post of his on the subject. He doesn't seem that far off from me through Hiroshima, but I think he's close to all wet on Nagasaki, and doesn't really grasp the depth of Japanese intransigence up to and through Aug. 9.)


I re-read this 12 years later, and it's as pertinent as ever. Here's additional notes.

As for the “let blockade work” folks? Per Chapter 10 (149ff) a formal blockade started in early June, not too long after Okinawa was done. And, we’d been dropping aerial-placed sea mines on Japan’s Inland Sea, and selected spots elsewhere, already in March.

Rather than “unconditional surrender,” the Potsdam Guarantee not only (roundaboutly) guaranteed the Imperial House, it made other Atlantic Charter-based guarantees that were never offered to Germany, enough of them to appall the Aussie prime minister.

But, as of Aug. 9, that wasn’t good enough for many Japanese leaders, who also knew they were running ever lower on military goods and that the morale of many citizens was weakening.

On Aug. 9, in light of Hiroshima and hearing the first word about Soviet war entry, the Imperial War Cabinet met. The Kwantung Army did not know immediately how badly outnumbered it was, especially on armor, but they knew that this part of their self-deception had now vanished. Then, in the middle of the meeting, came first word of Nagasaki.

Sidebar, outside the review: As I have blogged about in HUGE DEPTH, Hirohito's surrender rescript did NOT mention the Russian entry. Just stop it. More on this being a lie here. This is why I say leftists in many cases tell outright lies about this issue. You do.

And YET, half the War Cabinet kept a “four-condition” stance.

The “one condition” stance was surrender based on the Potsdam Declaration, with the assumption its wording meant that, in some way, shape or form, the Emperor stayed.

The “four condition” stance was, well, in light of reality, intransigent. The other three conditions were that Japanese troops would disarm themselves, that Japan would itself oversee any war crimes trials, and that Japan would not be occupied.

(Up to the time of Okinawa, at least, many Japanese military leaders had been “five-condition” persons, though Frank doesn’t talk about this in detail. That fifth condition was that Japan keep at least part of the territory it had gained in the 1895-1914 period. And, Hirohito himself held to this, as well as holding at that time to a refusal to negotiate until Japan won once more. To overview that?

In the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War, Japan crushed China. China ceded the Liaotong Peninsula and Taiwan to Japan. But Russia, in part fronting for other European powers, forced Japan to surrender it and the strategic Port Arthur to Russia in exchange for a bigger Chinese indemnity, with Russia also working to supplant Japanese influence in Korea. That set the stage for the Russo-Japanese War. Japan got Korean influence, Port Arthur, and southern half of Sakhalin Island. But Teddy Roosevelt, in reaty negotiations, backed Nicholas II in refusing to pay an indemnity. That was the first incident to raise Japanese suspicions of US plans for Asia.

Japan then, working off its 1902 alliance with Britain, entered World War 1 with the Allies. Its goal, met successfully, was to take German holdings in China and the Pacific. That was the Mariana, Caroline and Marshall Islands, important in World War II. The not quite totally nutters among the Japanese military believed America would be OK with those surrendered to them but Japan keeping everything else up to 1905.

Hirohito himself was a "five conditioner" until the end of the Okinawa campaign.

At the end of the book, Frank refutes a number of misconceptions, starting with the “bombs vs invasion” one. Yes, the two bombs did save as many as 500,000 casualties and 100,000 US deaths just for the invasion of Kyushu, and yes, that was mentioned soon after the war, but that wasn’t the primary concern at the time, or at least not the sole primary concern.

Rather, and especially before Trinity and it being known we had a working plutonium bomb, the issue was “blockade and bombardment alone” vs “that plus invasion” on getting Japan to surrender and even more, getting Japan to surrender IN AN ORDERLY FASHION.

Caps-lock is needed on this.

Even after the two bombs AND Hirohito’s rescript, Truman and the brass weren’t 100 percent sure all Japanese troops in Japan would surrender in an orderly fashion and they were VERY unsure about troops in outlying areas of Japanese occupation. In fact, Japanese military leaders were also unsure.

Now, those casualties.

There was no final, formal assessment by US planners after the war was done about what Olympic would have cost. But we know that casualty estimates were going up and Nimitz had already soured on it because of this. The numbers above are reasonable estimates.

And, that’s just US military casulties.

From the start of the war in non-Manchuria parts of China in the last 1930s, Frank shows that Japanese occupation had been killing a million Chinese a year. From 1941 on, it had been killing half a million residents in other occupied countries.

So, every month the war continued was a month, even with the loss of parts of the Empire, for 100,000 or more civilians to die.

Then there is the issue of how many more Japanese would have died.

Frank does a good job of showing how, if we had continued the full blockade, and then intensified disruption of Japanese transportation as planned, a million or more Japanese might have died of malnutrition and starvation.

And, for moralizers? He points out that blockades are wars against civilians, women and children just like either atomic bombs or napalm incendiaries. Period.

Related to that, he notes that within early military moralizers, many, like Ike, have faulty memories. In other cases, like Leahy, their memories might not be faulty, but they might have been guilty of turf wars. Plenty of Army and Navy people “found” a conscience. Army Air Force / Air Force brass, not so much; per Bomber Harris, after all, the ultimate bomb had gotten through.

View all my reviews


So, we the US had nothing to apologize for with the use of the atomic bombs, as I said about Obama's visit to Hiroshima several years ago. (As part of that, I noted that modern Japan has itself been half-hearted on some of ITS apologies.)

Does this mean it was "good" to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki? No; as I said before, the word "justified" is not the right word to use. Rather, they were the "least bad option," a phrase I have used in modern foreign policy about things like keeping Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria.

And, outside the header, that's the first time I mentioned Nagasaki. But, while we're here? The blockade, the mining AND the world's first nuclear weapon, and the Japanese Imperial War Cabinet still refused to surrender.

A new book, "Unconditional," largely confirms Frank's take on Imperial Japan while putting this all within contemporary US politics, including people trying to tie what terms of surrender we offered Japan into trying to end the New Deal. That continued to play out in both postwar occupation and rebuilding of Japan, on the far side of the Pacific, and on continued assessments of Truman's decision over here. 

I have since the previous update read "Unconditional" myself and it's just as good as "Downfall."

Unconditional: The Japanese Surrender in World War IIUnconditional: The Japanese Surrender in World War II by Marc S. Gallicchio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fascinating new look at the last months of the Pacific War, told from inside Washington, and how the policy of unconditional surrender was being politicized even before the war was over, and how some of the first politicization of the atomic bomb tied to this.
It was mainly conservative Republicans, some of whom were also “old Japan hands” like Stimson and Grew, who wanted Truman to drop unconditional surrender.

Their reasons were laughable. First, like many Reaganites believing moderates in Iran were ready, willing, able and empowered enough to work around the mullahs, these people believed the same about moderates or liberals in Japan being able to work around the militarists. Second, many of them believed that Hirohito was more sinned against by the militarists than a willing fellow sinner.

Then, there was the geopolitics that some of them wanted ANY end to the war before the Russkies jumped in.

Marc Gallicchio sketches this all out in detail.

Countering this?

New president Truman had a policy he had inherited from FDR and was politically loathe to abandon it. At the same time, before July 16, 1945, he felt very sure — per Marshall — that he needed Stalin to enter the war. At the third time, he rejected Stimson, Grew and Herbert Hoover’s beliefs, not so much about mythical moderates as about Hirohito. (And was right.)

Gallicchio shows a Truman who was not as much a naïf (well, other than about Stalin, but he disabused himself of that to some degree by the end of Potsdam) as someone who kept his own council and held his cards close to his vest.

Behind all of this are Army and Navy wrangling about Olympic vs blockade. (Contra Gar Alpherowitz, and all of his ilk who politicized the bomb in the 1960s and later, IF a blockade had forced Japanese surrender [A VERY BIG IF] the hundreds of thousands that died from starvation, the hundreds of thousands that died from ongoing fighting, the likely hundreds of thousands of POWs that would have died, would have FAR outnumbered bomb deaths. BUT … all of this, outside of what the bomb actually DID achieve, is outside Gallicchio’s remit.)

Behind all of THAT are administrators of the various war economy agencies, and the general public, begging for military demobilization as soon as possible.

And, in Japan? Well, actually in Moscow? One realist. Ambassador Sato, who laughed at the idea that Moscow would be an intermediary, and not for a negotiated, conditional surrender, but for “peace talks.”

I already knew that, up to pre-Okinawa 1945, Hirohito himself was a last-ditcher enough to still have hope of holding on to everything Japan had conquered through the end of World War 1.

But, Gallicchio goes further. First, he notes something that either isn’t in a book like Frank’s “Downfall” or else that I missed seeing there. On meeting with Foreign Minister Togo on Aug. 8 — AFTER Hiroshima — Hirohito accepted the need for surrender, but still believed it could be a negotiated one.


Some of the militarists were ready to drive loopholes through the “retain the imperial polity” asterisk to unconditional surrender. (It should be noted that keeping Hirohito on the throne DID facilitate Japanese troop surrender immensely.)

More specifically, they were worried that Hirohito would be exiled to China and Akihito taken to America for re-education and being held hostage. They proposed taking a scion of a collateral line to a hideaway in Niigata prefecture until the Americans left Japan.

Third, forward to 1946, a year after the occupation started. Truman told MacArthur it was time to get that new Japanese constitution. And, that it would include definite limits on imperial power. A Japanese committee was given first crack at it, and basically tried to keep Hirohito as MUCH more than a figurehead head of state. Supreme Command Allied Powers then said move over, and wrote Japan’s constitution in a week.

And, Gallicchio notes that Hirohito PERSONALLY resisted. And, his family turned on him! His youngest brother told the Privy Council, indirectly, that Hirohito should abdicate. An uncle by marriage told the AP that many members of the family supported abdication. The same uncle, weeks later, said there were plans to have another brother of Hirohito serve as regent for Akihito.

And, here’s the fantastic way Gallicchio ices the cake.

He turns Hirohito’s imperial rescript of surrender against him. In its exact language.

I quote:

“Seeing that the situation had developed not necessarily to his advantage, Hirohito finally relented.”

AND, lest I be accused of spoiler alerts? Details of the allied occupation of Japanese territory, mainly Korea and the Kuriles, and other items? Not mentioned in this review.

And, this is all in a book of right at 200 pages.

Gallicchio has set the new benchmark for studies here.

View all my reviews

August 05, 2019

Quick blogroll update

Added: Nautilus' Facts so Romantic blog. Good mix of issues scientific and philosophical.

Gone: Popehat. Ken may put something up on Popehat, but he said that he might three months ago and hasn't, and I was kind of ambivalent about him again. I was not at all ambivalent about not missing the occasional guest blog post there by the truly odious Marc Randazza (also, legally unethical, even though "legal ethics" is as oxymoronic as "military intelligence). Randazza had various degrees of loathing from many other of Ken's readers, so I'm far from alone in that observation. (That said, I did get a bit of signal-boosting from Ken's readers when I blogged about University of Missouri prof Melissa Click.)

Hell, maybe Ken scrubbed blogging at Popehat as an easy-peasy way to not signal-boost Randazza, assuming Randazza didn't have his own posting login.

On the third hand, much of Randazza's legal ethics problems AND real-world ethics problems were visible long before Donald J. Trump became president.

Also gone: Tim Shorrock's Dispatch Korea. Shorrock has great stuff, but nothing posted since early March, while he does put stuff up at The Nation.

Another one is gone for now, for spouting RWNJ talking points one too many times. I haven't named it, in case they repent. (I doubt they will and I'm not looking that hard.)

Here for now still: Frederick Theodore Rall III for ongoing chuckles. More seriously, Liberal Values Blog; Ron Chusid's posting away on Effbook and Twitter, just not blogging right now. I'll drop him shortly as I've FB-friended him. And, may unfriend him. What is it with the left-liberals and "soft" leftists (as in non-Marxists, like me) who drink the Tulsi Gabbard Kool-Aid? And, after he and a bunch of followers got butt-hurt over this, and attacked me, he then unfriended me on Effbook. So, I blocked him. And dropped his blog.

Kuff remains. He's a ConservaDem on a lot of stuff, but he doesn't drink the Tulsi KoolAid, and I know a couple of people who like him far less than I do, which is why he stays for now. He also irritates those two enough.

Another White Atheist in Columbia, if she starts blogging more often, at the length she does and other issues, won't be here much longer.

Added: LobeLog, which I had seen Albert Kim post about, and The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, from a poster on LobeLog. The first is all foreign policy; the second is a mix of that and its namesake, about which I don't really care. Both tackle for pol from a generally left-liberal and non-Washington bipartisan consensus angle.

Added and deleted Lawyers, Guns and Money. It's interesting, often insightful, but, more than 3/4 of the commenters bat right of Sanders, I think. And, there's a fair chunk with at least one foot in the ConservaDem world. Blocked one, may block another, already. Commenters I could handle; proprietors (after one indicated Warren or Kamala Harris their two favorites) and I commented on being actually Green on this post, Scott Lemieux said (in the screengrab on this Tweet):

Anybody, and not just the polloi, who makes that "Stein vote was really a Trump vote" bullshit claim? Not following you folks, even if halfway interesting otherwise.

Added and deleted again Texas Monitor, which bills itself as independent journalism, though everybody from a non-TV background except their apparent "pot reporter" comes from either the libertarian right or the traditional wingnut right. Deleted after learning multiple things about how founder Trent Siebert was a hack on the Koch Bros dime, just now wingnut (and loathsome) Chris Marrou is and more.

It seems clearer that this outfit is a wingnut attempt to compete with the Texas Trib. Even the former Dallas Observer guy, the "pot reporter," worked for the Washington Times. What the hell Gayle Reaves is doing on their masthead, I don't know. She wrote for them once, and maybe then realized what it was. And, she hasn't asked for her name to be officially hauled down. That's my best guess.

About to get deleted? Black Agenda Report, who's executive editor, Glen Ford, has started openly guzzling the Tulsi Kool-Aid ever since Bruce Dixon died.