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« A Few Small Beefs with Paul Cantor: Part Two | Main | More Carb Linkage »

January 10, 2008


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Professor Weevil is having a book sale.

* Polly Frost gets a rave from the classy new erotica review Lucrezia, and gives a funny interview to Foreward magazine. (Scroll down a bit.)

* Jon Hastings has discovered the fun of Tumblr.

* Richard S. Wheeler thinks that Jack Schaefer, the author of the famous western novel "Shane," deserves to be known as one of America's greatest novelists.

* An apt (and very true) line from Vince Keenan: "Say what you will about the 1980s, but it was the last decade that knew how to deliver quality sleaze." Ah, for the days of Michael Douglas sex thrillers. I mean that seriously, by the way.

* Excellent rant.

* Videoblogging cutiepie.

* Wondering how to dress the next time you go out? Here are some inspired suggestions. (Link thanks to Charlton Griffin)

* Charlton also points out this fascinating story about Soviet-era Russian cowboy films. Who knew?

* HispanicPundit smartly sorts out how "ethnic poverty" is likely to be discussed by a liberal, a conservative, and a libertarian economist.

* Marc Andreessen shows how one social-networking-service deals with the inevitable porn question. Hey, if it's what people are really interested in ...

* Rick Darby suspects that Nicolas Sarkozy has good taste in women.

* Marcia and Lorenzo review "No Country for Old Men."

* I don't know which is funnier: The New Republic making a fool of itself attempting to smear Ron Paul via some old newsletters; or the spectacle of legions of apoplectic Ron Paul supporters standing up for their hero. Sigh: politics, eh? UPDATE: Ron Paul is interviewed by CNN. Tucker Carlson interviews The New Republic's Jamie Kirchick, for whom the term "wet behind the ears" might have been invented. Here's another interview with Jamie Kirchick.

* MBlowhard Rewind: I marveled at how really strange and bizarre many people in the cultureworld are.



posted by Michael at January 10, 2008


It's certainly true that people in the culture world are often strange and bizarre.

Let me ask you, Michael: Do you still find this interesting?

The quest for fame through outrageous behavior used to interest me. Don't know what happened... maybe I just got old. The whole things bores the hell out of me.

I've known so many determinedly strange and bizarre characters in my days in San Francisco, New York City and Woodstock. I suspect that I was once interested in them as a sort of antidote to the quiet, modest demeanor of midwesterners.

I've completely lost interest in the wild characters. Not antagonistic, just bored. Nowadays, there are so many of them.

I just received notice that the winner of a recent 24 Hour Film Festival was a group that produced "Honey, I Got You Herpes For Christmas!" The video goes no further than the title. The actors are all kids fresh from college, determined to transgress social norms and outrage the masses. It was all so predictable that it had me yawning.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on January 10, 2008 2:45 PM

I don't understand why TNR is embarrassing itself by digging up letters that Ron Paul allowed to be published under his name. As someone sympathetic to some of Paul's ideas, his involvement with clearly racist speech has made him a completely unacceptable vehicle for a protest vote. There are two explanations: either he believed these things, and has refused to renounce them, or he allowed his name to be used on something and had no interest in what it said. Neither of these would recommend Paul for the Presidency.

Posted by: wph on January 10, 2008 4:35 PM

"Sigh: politics, eh?"

Thank goodness for smug, apathetic types who can put it in proper perspective.

Posted by: James M. on January 10, 2008 4:36 PM

The ranter says "... in 1950, perhaps the zenith of the American empire." In 1950 every other sizeable advanced country was on its knees, due to the late unpleasantness.

Posted by: dearieme on January 10, 2008 5:09 PM

Ron Paul isn't responsible for anybody else's views, and trying to smear him by association (a favorite tactic of Stalin) is pathetic and ineffective. Voting for Ron Paul isn't a protest vote--its a vote for real change. That's what scares the establishment--he really will change things.

The tactics are getting desperate, and just about everybody can see through the lies used to smear him. Good luck with the disinfo campaign. It just makes him look better.

Posted by: BIOH on January 10, 2008 5:28 PM

Actually, I think Ron Paul is responsible for views expressed in the first person in a newsletter named after him and apparently (haven't seen anyone deny it) owned by him. Whether that responsibility is legal or merely moral may be arguable, but those who deny it are the ones "getting desperate". What's next? I. F. Stone was really a conservative Republican and the I. F. Stone Bi-Weekly was actually written by someone else with completely different ideas?

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on January 10, 2008 6:23 PM

Wrong. Anyone could put out a Ron Paul newsletter and write something claiming to be him in the first person. Ron Paul later set the record straight on his real views. Not an issue. Anyone who really believes this blatant smear job has already made up their mind about him anyway before this happened. Nothing to see here--move along. The story has no traction anyway for two reasons--its false, and Paul supporters know the reals score, and how the neocon networks have been trying to call him a racist for months now since he is against their wars.

Posted by: BIOH on January 10, 2008 7:35 PM

Even before this stuff came to light about Ron Paul, most of the people I know were irked that I'm going to vote for him, being that I work and have a social circle centered on a college campus. Now, some are plainly infuriated, to which I calmly reply "Are you afraid I might become a white supremicist?".

I find the idea that white nationalists so loving Ron Paul as rather humorous, considering how much respect Paul had (has?) for the thought of Hayek and the Austrian school. He's a cipher a lot of disenfranchised voters place their own hopes and aspirations into. Mine is from the fact that looking at the polls, he doesn't stand a rat's chance in hell of getting the nomination, yet he shakes up the political mainstream enough to possibly cause some beneficial change and new POVs being discussed at the table. I actually don't agree with the majority of his plank, and think a lot of his supporters are near delusional, still I think that giving him prominence and a voice can only do good to a rather disturbing ossified system.

Also, that rant was awesome. How come no one ever puts something like that up in MSM? It definately bleeds enough that some cynical bastard can squeeze a dime out of giving it airplay. I wonder why some stand-up comedian along the lines of Lenny Bruce or Bill Hicks hasn't started riffing on it yet, it's a pretty rich vein to mine.

Also, I'm clearly a member of the "weirdo" wing of the culture world. I think what makes craziness tolerable or intolerable is self-awareness of how cataclysmically fucked-up you are. I think lots of people are more "nuts" than they let on, they just don't feel the need to inflict it on others or wear it as a badge of pride. As for myself, when I'm having a "dyspeptic" day, I try to compensate by forcing myself either into chores or creative enterprise and avoiding social contact. The combo tends to set me arights again.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on January 10, 2008 7:50 PM

How can one not think of conspiracy theories having just observed an improbably simultaneous media attack on Ron Paul the day of the New Hampshire primary? A remarkably successful attack that made him plunge from 14% in the polls to an 8% actual vote? After weeks where we heard little about Paul from the mass media and beltway "libertarian" bloggers? TNR from the left, Fox News and talk radio from the right, and piling on from beltway "libertarians" who made a point of loudly repeating the TNR smears and dumping Ron Paul on the day of the primary. Your eyes and ears did not deceive you, all this happened. It is not the result of a criminal conspiracy, but if one uses "conspiracy" as a metaphor for social networks of vast complexity, there is a strong sense in which conspiracy theories accurately, if metaphorically, explain what happened.

The reality behind the conspiratorial metaphor is the social networking between denizens of the Beltway, who sport a wide variety of political labels but are, relative to the rest of the country, a monoculture. I lived there. I went to these parties. These denizens range from the journalists who report the mass media news to various think tank and university scholars at the Cato Institute, George Mason University, and so on. They study Ayn Rand, then marry Andrea Mitchell and testify against tax cuts. Vast amounts of federal money, that stuff that is taken out of your paycheck with such automatic ease, flow into the Beltway area. Directly and indirectly, almost every person who lives in or near the Beltway depends on the very income tax that Ron Paul declared he would abolish -- with no replacement!

Many of these paycheck vampires call themselves "libertarians" and inspire us with their libertarian rhetoric to support them with our attention, our blog hits, and our tuition money as well as the tax money that already funds them or their friends. But at the first sign of political incorrectness, all these below-the-Beltway "libertarians" have dumped Ron Paul like yesterday's garbage. Now they can rest easy that they will still be invited to the parties thrown by their lobbyist and government employee and contractor friends, who for a second or two got worried by all those Google searches that Ron Paul might have some influence, resulting in some of them losing their jobs (end the income tax with no replacement?! The guy is obvioiusly a kook, and we don't invite the supporters of kooks to our parties!). Now everybody around the Beltway can go back to partying at the taxpayer's expense. All the money will keep flowing in, hooray!

The lesson millions of young libertarians have now learned from our mass media, including our beltway "libertarians"? Libertarian electioneering is futile. Voting is futile. Democracy is futile. Anybody who actually wants liberty is a kook, as can be proven by their association with kooks. Beltway wonks posing as "libertarians" are happy to write things to inflame your hopes for liberty that they don't really mean. Then they make sure that we elect the politicians their friends want -- the ones that will enslave your future to pay for full social security for Baby Boomers. The ones that will send you off to foreign lands to kill and die. Our Beltway "libertarians" are happy to sell a whole new generation of libertarians down the tubes in order to keep their Beltway friends happy.

Posted by: formerbeltwaywonk on January 10, 2008 7:57 PM

BIOH writes: "Anyone could put out a Ron Paul newsletter and write something claiming to be him in the first person." I don't believe that's true. Specifically, I think Ron Paul could and should sue anyone who put out a newsletter in his name without his permission if it clearly purported to be by him (that is, if it is not satirical, and if it cannot be attributed to some other less famous Ron Paul, neither of which seems to be the case here). I certainly would. The fact that he failed to do so over something like 10 years seems to establish his approval of what was being put out in his name. And did he or did he not get any of the money subscribers paid? As far as I can tell, he did. I'm sorry, but Paul's defenders provide the lamest arguments I've seen in months.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on January 10, 2008 8:25 PM

You're going to have to explain how the New Republic piece was a "smear job." It's a journalist's job to research and report on the views and actions of public figures--especially those who want to be President of the United States. Paul published--under his own name and apparently in the first person (!)--a newsletter spouting racist drivel. Either (1) these statements reflected his own views, in which case he's unfit for the office he's running for, or (2) he allowed racist statements to be published in his newsletter for several years without which case he's unfit for the office he's running for. What is really amazing is the knots Ron Paul supporters are tying themselves into trying to excuse his unexcusable actions.

Posted by: monboddo on January 10, 2008 8:48 PM

Feeding the flames here ...

Ron Paul is interviewed by CNN. Tucker Carlson interviews The New Republic's Jamie Kirchic. Here's another interview with Jamie Kirchick.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 10, 2008 8:59 PM

More fun: Stephen Green -- who not only doesn't like Ron Paul but thinks he's a whacko -- spots the New Republic piece as a "hit job." The signs are there, if you know how and where to look.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 10, 2008 9:18 PM

Gays and Lesbians for Ron Paul discuss the brouhaha.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 10, 2008 9:31 PM

"There are two explanations: either he believed these things, and has refused to renounce them, or he allowed his name to be used on something and had no interest in what it said. Neither of these would recommend Paul for the Presidency." Obviously, the first of these is false. Why are we even discussing it as a possibility? He fired the guy who wrote the offensive article, didn't he? What he's guilty of is not paying enough attention to what was in an issue of his newsletter fifteen years ago. How bad is that? I've probably done worse things during the last month. Can't we move on, for crying out loud?

Posted by: Lester Hunt on January 10, 2008 10:17 PM

There were several different newsletters put out with his name on them that he never saw or approved. I don't know how anyone can be responsible for something like that.

If you want to make character smears against a presidential candidate, this guy is the last one of the current group that deserves it.

Posted by: BIOH on January 10, 2008 10:54 PM

Politics indeed. Jamie Kirchick is an ass, as he's demonstrated many times before, but there's no way Ron Paul comes out of this looking like anything other than a bizzaro nutjob who's obviously a magnet for even worse nutjobs.

Still the best Republican candidate though!

Reel Geezers is so great. Spot on about NO COUNTRY.

Posted by: Steve on January 11, 2008 2:27 AM


Do you agree with most of Ron Paul's libertarian political positions? If so, I find it paradoxical that you are simultaneously attracted by Chris Hedges' rant. Paul and Hedges would both like to end our foreign military interventions and dismantle the military-industrial machine. Otherwise, they couldn't be more different. If he had his druthers, Ron Paul would dismantle all entitlement and social welfare programs, redistributive schemes, state controlled regulatory agencies and state sponsored institutions like public schools. These are exactly where Hedges would pour the many billions of dollars currently spent on the military and the wars we're fighting.

How do you reconcile Hedges' and Pauls' philosophies of government if you approve of both, if you do?

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 11, 2008 3:38 AM

Unless Ron Paul or his defenders can demonstrate that the various newsletters quoted from in Kirchick's article were fabricated by Kirchick or the New Republic, then they are very damning indeed. If there had been one or two articles that were from the distant past, then Paul's assertions that others wrote them without his approval might be barely believable. But we have a series of newsletters put out until around the mid-90s. They all are emblazoned with Ron Paul's name on the marquee and were issued by the Ron Paul Publishing Company. It is a simple fact of authorship that a person doesn't begin publishing a newsletter bearing his name unless he desires to communicate his ideas to like minded readers. Even if the articles were bylined with others' names, their appearance in a Ron Paul newsletter would lead any reasonable reader to conclude that Paul agreed with and endorsed the newsletter's content.

What I find interesting is how all the discussion of Kirchick's article has focused solely on Paul's newsletters. There's a lot more in the article like Paul's pro-secessionist/Confederate views and his affinity with new world order conspiracy obsessives like Alex Jones with which to contend.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 11, 2008 4:13 AM

I just found the following statement from Ron Paul to his followers on the blog Burkeman1:

But now is the time to stick together like the brothers and sisters we are, to stand side by side in this fight against the media toadies, warmongers, and Wall Street rip-off artists who stand against us, and who always remind me of Tolkein's Orcs...

Yeah, it's everyone else's fault, right? Give me a crank who's a stout-hearted crank... Fight on, embattled paranoid cranks!

Re: Chris Hedges' rant. It has the stale, canned quality of so much of what I've heard from various people over the Pacifica station here for decades, especially when a Republican President is in office. I heard it during Reagan and George H.W. Bush's terms. I consider myself a liberal on most issues, but as a liberal, rants like Hedges' embarrass me. It's the secular left's version of an apocalyptic rapture scenario. All the dire consequences have been predicted so many times and they never happen. It's a masochistic leftist's broken record that I've tired of hearing long ago.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 11, 2008 4:40 AM

No one else thought that videoblogger was cute?

OK, back to politics ... To give you guys a fresh target to shoot at, here's how I see it. I don't root for parties and candidates. They're all rotten, I don't have first-hand knowledge of any of the candidates, only a megalomaniac would run for Pres anyway, and all politicians and parties betray and disappoint you in the end, usually in completely unpredictable ways. Except when they don't. But how can you know in advance? I'm a lesser-of-two-evils and prepare-for-disappointment-anyway kind of guy. Works for me.

But I do root for the political process itself to be or become a little more open and responsive than it normally is. Ron Paul may be a racist kook for all I know. Hey, I got no personal experience of the guy. But his presence in the campaign has been been disruptive, and in ways that I have found useful.

As far as I'm concerned, iIt has been a better campaign than it might otherwise have been.

For two main reasons: 1) Ron Paul's popularity and message have forced certain issues and topics that many people genuinely care about into the public conversation. That's a good thing! 2) It has made the mainstream press and parties a little alarmed, and has given them a chance to show what oppressive, controlling motherfuckers they really are. That's a good thing too!

So, where the Ron Paul phenomenon goes, I've been rooting for this to go on. (I do like some of his policies too, but that's irrelevant to this line of reasoning. If Bernie Sanders ran for Pres., he might serve a similar purpose, and that'd be good by me.)

So: If this is the end of Ron Paul, that's too bad, because his influence on the campaign has been a salutary one. If the only thing that surfaces during a campaign is the quarrels between McCain and Hillary ... Well, that's a really depressing prospect. But if Ron Paul is thru, so be it. I'll be rooting for whatever else comes along that'll disrupt the usual smooth functioning of the power-bastards.

As far as the New Republic's takedown of Ron Paul goes ... It may or may not be a good piece of journalism. But it's also clearly an example of the establishment acting quickly and efficiently to k.o. a phenomenon that threatens them. You don't have to do more than look at the language and reasoning in the piece to recognize that. I work in the media biz. I know how to read a media piece. I can do a pretty good job of spotting the games and the schemes behind and informing a media piece. Happy to give lessons if anyone should be curious about this, by the way. And always happy to learn more too, of course.

But also: think for just a minute about the very convenient timing. And think about the source: Jamie Kirchick, 23ish-year-old ambitious Yalie, a fave of Marty Peretz, famously influential and famously pro-war ... This is the (or at least a) D.C. establishment moving with great power and efficiency to take down a populist outsider.

I mean, you can think this is a good thing or a bad thing. But I think you're being a bit of a sap if you don't recognize it as the thing that it is.

In other words, it's quite possible *both* that Ron Paul has a racist-kook side *and* that the New Republic piece was a despicable smear job.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 11, 2008 11:07 AM

Too bad Ron Paul wasn't responsible for those newsletters.

Yeah, people who think that the governments should be limited by the Constitution, or any other law, are "whackjobs"! I guess that's why the Founding Fathers wrote it. They were the original whackjobs, eh? He wants to end a war that is bankrupting our country and killing losts of american servicemen and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Nutty! If you think that's nutty, you're the one who has a mental problem.

As we have all seen, calling someone a racist is the ultimate debate-stopping tactic of the left, when any of their feeble-minded pet policies are challenged. But if you cry wolf too many times, of course, nobody takes you seriously.

I don't have a problem with ending almost all "entitlement" spending, and increasingly, many Americans agree with me. To a liberal, no amount of state control and spending is enough. These people are so dumb that they can't see the end of their socialist road. Every single socialst country with a gigantic army eventually turns that army on its own people to extract more money and gain more control over the populace, and that is exactly what we are seeing here in America. It ought to scare people to death. Yet the moldy, 1960's dumbass liberal can't see the obvious. Isn't it funny how all the face-scanning and surveillance cameras that are needed to fight "terrorism" are now being slowly turned around on the American and British people themselves, while the borders are wide open?

As far as 911, there are basically two conspiracy theories. The first one is that 19 hijackers, against all odds, managed to fool the trillions-of-dollar defense establishment that did not follow official protocols that day, with the end result of 3000 people killed and the Pentagon and World Trade Centers wrecked.

The other conspiracy theory is that the government and military-industrial complex staged 911 itself so as to profit from trillions on new wars and military spending, and to take over the oil fields of the Middle East for the Israel/American/British axis.

Considering how standard protocols weren't followed on 911, that the DOD and NORAD were staging drills that day for planes being hijacked, that scramble jets were mysteriously sent away from DC and NY, and that one of the most heavily defended buildings in the world, the Pentagon, was made to look like any other defenseless building, which conspiracy theory seems more probable?

All the evidence points to the latter one. If anybody really thinks that the US doesn't stage provocations to make war on other countries, all you have to do is look at the Gulf of Tonkin incident. That example ought to be moldy and 1960's enough for ya.

Posted by: BIOH on January 11, 2008 11:28 AM

Kirchick is Peretz's toady all right, and the piece is a hack job, but I don't know about Marty Peretz being so influential anymore. He seems more like the crazy uncle in the attic these days--even at his own magazine. Not on par with the Broders and Friedmans and Haitts and Kristols in DC media establishment circles, certainly.

Does the establishment loathe Paul? Sure, but they loathe Edwards and Clinton even more. Paul's a sideshow. Maybe he scared them a bit when he raised a bunch of money, but that's it.

As for Paul changing the debate, what are you smokin' dude? Name one issue on the Republican side where Paul has acted as a game changer. It hasn't happened. They're still all fighting about who they're going to bomb and torture next, or how many million years they're going to stay in Iraq. He's irrelevant.

Edwards, on the other hand, has acted as a game changer on the Democratic side, forcing both Obama and Hillary to tack to the left on a host of progressive issues. Whether you think this is a good thing or not, he's been a heck of lot more effective within his sphere of influence than Paul ever will be.

Posted by: Steve on January 11, 2008 11:55 AM

BIOH -- Ron might be completely blameless, and like I say I'm very sympathetic to many of his positions. But it still might be the end of him. Politics ain't about justice.

Steve -- I'd argue that the Ron Paul campaign has threatened the mainstream in two ways: he's the only hardline antiwar guy (and that's a big threat to both parties), and his presence has made immigration a bigger issue than it would otherwise be. The eagerness of the mainstreams to characterize the Ron Paul phenomenon as fringe and whacky seems to me a sign that they're being punitive. But I think your points are all good. Still: You see Hillary as non-establishment? That surprises me. Why do you think that?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 11, 2008 12:07 PM

Hillary's very establishment, of course, but the establishment still hates her, at least from what I can see. They've always hated the Clintons--but it's a personality thing, not an issues thing.

I disagree with you about Paul influencing the debate on immigration. Other and more powerful people in the Republican party already did that -- guys like Duncan Hunter and Tom Tracedo. These guys have less of a popular base than Paul in the country at large, but they have much bigger voices in the establishment of the party, and they've been screaming for years.

But you're right that if Paul ever got traction on issues like his hardline antiwar stance or his economics ideas, he'd be a big threat to the establishment. So far I just don't see it happening on any level.

Posted by: Steve on January 11, 2008 12:29 PM

BIOH: if the military-industrial complex staged the 9/11 incident in order to have an excuse to mount an invasion [of Iraq], why on earth did they make use of a group of men who had no discernible connection with Iraq at all? Why not make it look as if the operation had been launched by Saddam Hussein? Your theory makes no sense to me.

I suppose it is possible (though I think very unlikely) that the US gov't might have known about the 9/11 plot in advance, but chose to ignore it for the reason you give. That at least would explain why the "justification" for invading Iraq was so far-fetched: the gov't was exploiting an unrelated incident for its own purposes.

But I can't believe this either. The risk of doing something like this would have been enormous. Anyway, what with Iraq's refusal to allow UN inspectors to look for "WMD", the US already had an excuse, if a rather tenuous one (but no more tenuous than the one you propose was set up deliberately), for invading Iraq. Allowing planes to crash into American buildings was quite unnecessary.

Posted by: alias clio on January 11, 2008 12:38 PM

Another measure of who's really been influencing the immigration debate: who's getting booked on Savage and the other right-wing shows, that are really stirring up popular anti-immigration sentiment? It's guys like Tracedo, not Paul.

Posted by: Steve on January 11, 2008 12:39 PM


Bait and switch. Call the terrorists "islamofacists", and then substitute targeted country/leader/dictator into that group. What did Iran have to do with 911? Nothing. What did North Korea? Nothing. Yet they are in the "Axis of Evil", potential targets.

Look, you can believe whatever you want to. It makes perfect sense to me. Its the way people are always herded--create a great fear in them, then herd them into your solution.

If you really took a hard look at the facts surrounding 911 and the 7/7 bombings in London (where the British were running terror drills in the exact 3 stations that were bombed the same day and at the same time--coincidence?), you it would be you trying to "make sense" of the official conspiracy theory, not the other way around.

Anyway, the Ron Paul story has no legs, though the MSM will desperately try to stretch it into some kind of issue. Hard money advocates put out newsletters using Ron Paul's name because he backs gold, and somehow their views morph into his because his name is on the letter. In about two weeks the story will die as it is descredited on the internet, where informed people get their news, not the MSM.

Posted by: BIOH on January 11, 2008 2:28 PM

I quite agree with alias clio here in regard to conspiracy theories. It is pretty well established that the FDR admin knew something was cooking before Pearl Harbor and that their foreign policy initiatives beforehand were designed to get Japan to either back off their aggressive behavior in Asia or blow their stack. The Japanese blew their stack and FDR had the free hand he and his admin wanted. Was this the case with 9/11? Again, we didn't need planes crashing into NYC skyscrapers to gin up a war with Iraq. That could be accomplished much more easily and more transparently without the risk of exposure. As it was, the flimsy excuses advocated turned out to be embarrassingly inadequate. I rather doubt that a group of people who couldn't come up with a better excuse than WMDs in Iraq would be capable of enticing/sheltering a bunch of Muslim fanatics and turning a blind eye as they murdered 3,000 office workers in Manhattan. Even if I were a conspiracy theorist (and I'm not), this one is not logical. There are plenty of reasons to oppose our government's foreign affairs policies without recourse to conspiracy theories.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on January 12, 2008 12:01 AM

Charlton Griffith: there is no credible evidence whatever that anyone in the U.S. had any inkling of the Japanese plan to attack Pearl Harbor. It was clear that Japan seemed likely to go to war: an explicit "war warning" was issued to all Pacific commands in late November.

Precautions were taken in Hawaii. Aircraft aggressively patrolled south of Oahu, watching for Japanese submarines sneaking up on our fleet exercises there. The Army took elaborate measures to protect its aircraft against saboteurs. Aircraft carriers made runs to the northwest, ferrying aircraft to Wake and Midway. Nobody looked for, nobody anticipated a carrier strike from the north.

The quality of the various conspiracy theories is exemplified by John Toland's book Infamy. Toland, once a reputable historian, claimed to have uncovered secret U.S. monitoring of radio signals from the Japanese strike force en route to Hawaii. But there were no transmissions: every single Japanese survivor said the strike force maintained absolute radio silence.

But don't take my word for it. The Myths of Pearl Harbor has documentation out the wazoo, including all the relevant contemporary documents.

Not that this would convince Truthers like BIOH. I just hope others are less credulous.

As for Roosevelt's initiatives being designed to provoke Japan to war: the correspondence between FDR and Churchill at the time shows exactly the opposite. Both of them viewed Germany as the real danger. The object of FDR's policy was to deter Japan from starting a Pacific War that would distract the U.S. (and Britain) from the Hitler War.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on January 12, 2008 5:30 AM

Re the "videoblogging cutie": you linked to her blog, not to the post that interested you. Since she has 10 video postings on her main page, that's not useful.

(It's a fairly common but very annoying error. Even Denis Dutton does it sometimes.)

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on January 12, 2008 5:36 AM

Rich Rostrom,

I didn't say anything about Pearl Harbor. If you'd like to discuss 911 though, I'd be happy. I'd especially like to talk about the collapse of the Trade Center towers and WTC 7, since those collapses are impossible to explain without the use of explosives, and I'm an engineer, so I know a bit about that.

If you want to argue about it and think I'm crazy, bring it on.

Posted by: BIOH on January 12, 2008 1:45 PM

Rich Rostrom wrote:

"Toland, once a reputable historian, claimed to have uncovered secret U.S. monitoring of radio signals from the Japanese strike force en route to Hawaii."

I too read Infamy, and that is not what Toland claimed. What Toland wrote about and which was thoroughly documented, was the US's efforts to decrypt the Japanese diplomatic and military codes, codes to the Japanese embassay which used metaphorical terms telling the ambassadors that the attack was on were decrypted before the attack and Toland shows that Roosevelt and Gen. Marshall could have had the opportunity to read them just prior to Dec. 7.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 12, 2008 10:00 PM

Here is an excellent review of three books about Pearl Harbor, Toland’s included.

Tokyo set up a "winds code" on 19 November. It was a false weather message designed to inform Japan's consular and diplomatic representatives on the outbreak of war after they had destroyed their code books and machines. The code destruction orders went out on 1 and 2 December. So both Japanese and American radio stations were monitoring all weather broadcasts for the key words. Early testimony indicated that several persons had seen the "execute" of the "winds code" message and a number of others testified they had been informed of its reception. The cover-up forces then tried to dispel the idea that this clear warning of war, or at least of the breaking of relations, with Britain and the United States, was ever received.

The Japanese carriers were under orders to maintain radio silence. They would have been foolish to disobey those orders. Japanese sources have confirmed their silence. Seaman First Class Z and the Lurline radio operators may have heard the "noise" of the brief orders sent the carriers from Japan, but they could not have detected carriers moving in radio silence. There were last minute attempts to alert Washington from both the Netherlands East Indies and Australia. But so far as the record reveals, these all dealt with Japan's southern movements. The Japanese were most secretive about the Pearl Harbor attack plans and had no reason to disclose them to their representatives in Southeast Asia. In any case, there is no hard evidence that any of these reports actually got to the President.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 12, 2008 10:23 PM

For what it might be worth, I've blogged about L'Affaire Paul here.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on January 13, 2008 1:24 PM

Alias Clio---I see your point about it simply being "unnecessary" for the US Government to allow the carnage of 9/11 to happen just for an excuse to invade Iraq, when the refusal to allow weapons inspections gave them an excuse. But I think you mis-reading the mindset of the American People---Saddam had been refusing weapons inspections since '98, and there was absolutely no appetite to go to full fledged war with him in the country. The country rolled over and was more willing to be talked into war because of the shock and rage the 9/11 attacks created in the minds of Americans. Just refusing weapons inspections didn't do enough to threaten the day-to-day feelings of security in America, but the suicide bombings and sight of the WTC falling did "change everything"---maybe not in the reality of the world situation, but in the minds of American voters. So...I don't know that I believe the US Government knew "in advance" about the 9/11 attack---in addition to coldbloodedness, that implies more competence than it seems to me our intelligence operations were demonstrating---but saying the the US "already had an excuse" because of the refusal of weapons inspections really isn't true. The Bushies couldn't count on Congress rolling over for them on the war vote if their constituencies hadn't been inclined to let Washington do "whatever" to "protect" us at that time.

Posted by: annette on January 14, 2008 10:37 AM

Yes, I had thought of that, Annette. But it still seems to me - to take up my other point once again - that deliberately setting up an operation like 9/11, whose instigators had NO connectio to Iraq at all, was utterly pointless. If you're going to go to all that trouble, why not ensure that your miscreants are vengeful Iraqis? Can't be that difficult to orchestrate, if you grant the premise that the US government was willing to try something of that kind.

I can believe that the Bush government seized on the "excuse" offered by 9/11, after it had happened, out of a mad mixture of idealism and opportunism. But I think the idealism was real; it's a strong element of the American national character on both sides of your political divide, and it's what leads you into fighting wars that are not strictly essential to your country's survival.

Posted by: alias clio on January 14, 2008 5:14 PM

Mr. Winkler: "excellent" from a diseased viewpoint: this is the "Institute of Historical Review", a notorious Holocaust-denial group. And yes, Toland does assert flatly that

"At the Twelfth Naval District in San Francisco, Lieutenant Hosner and Seaman First Class Z had tracked Kido Butai to a position approximately four hundred miles north-northwest of Oahu."

See page 329 of the 1986 pb edition.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on January 18, 2008 10:55 PM

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