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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Break Glass If Holtz Winning Argument

No, Marc, I’ll give you the last word:

Marc Montoni in 2007: MM) I do not agree that any affiliate has the right to call for a new national sales tax, or even a state one. I do not agree that any affiliate has any right to advocate for school vouchers. And I do not agree that affiliates who endorse candidates who support any of these things should be allowed to remain as affiliates of the Libertarian Party (MM

Marc Montoni in 2008: MM) A LiberCop oozes up out of the slime (I’d say “woodwork” but that’s too clean to describe their origin) to beat up on other LP members until all forward progress is “arrested” and the enemies of the Libercop are all “locked away” — gone from the Party. The average LiberCop (and they are really, really average) spends most awake hours being righteously indignant about other Libertarians who look, think, or act differently than they. (MM

Marc Montoni today: MM) I’m a plumbliner; I think the government is inept at just about everything it does, except gross violence. There are a few issues that I personally do not believe are core issues, and about which I am content for there to be some divergence of opinion on them. (MM

Trent, my actual Diabolical Plan depends on radicals accusing me of having a diabolical plan. Please stop screwing up my plans.

Paulie, unless you assert the negation of the principle I stated, we’re debating history, not ethics.

For the relevant history, see You may not be aware of how the release of the full “Magic” decrypts in 1995 essentially settled what had indeed been an open question.

“The mission of the Libertarian Party is to unite voters who want more personal liberty and more economic liberty behind the electoral choices that will most effectively move public policy in a libertarian direction.”

Susan, the only “more freedom” language here is about what is wanted by the voters we seek to unite. What WE want is to “move public policy in a libertarian direction”.

Your “modicum/dash/pinch of freedom” is just a feeble straw man. What constitutes “a libertarian direction” for public policy is described in the Platform. Calling that a “modicum/dash/pinch” is just inane.

Oh, what a fun PlatCom cycle this is going to be. :-)
Susan, you were the one who highlighted how my statement was in the context of the decision facing Truman in early August 1945. If you want to change the context, at least admit that’s what you’re doing.

You can run, but I can run faster. I challenge you to assert: “never in a just defensive war can the net savings of innocent lives be so great that it can justify efforts that themselves kill innocents despite all reasonable efforts to avoid it.”

Tom, not dropping an atomic bomb on the more-populous Tokyo is an example of an effort to avoid killing civilians — ~300,000 of whom were being killed each month by the Japanese empire, as it ran its body count well into 7 figures.

The real questions here are: is it protected speech for Susan to shout “Hiroshima!” in a crowd of Libertarians? Is the inevitable pursuit of this ironic evidence that Libertarians lack free will? She might as well have shouted “War of Southern Independence!”

Susan, fair warning about our upcoming PlatCom term: I’m going to try to see if you prefer the “ignorance of causality” defense or the “clean hands” defense. For now I’ll just note that such ethical ostrich-ism is a luxury that only a tiny fraction of people in human history have had any chance of enjoying, and is a curious stance for someone asking voters to give her legislative power.
Susan, our productivity will likely be in inverse proportion to the incidence of Hiroshima red herrings and “pinch of freedom” strawmen. On the other hand, the Robert Capozzi Memorial Private-Nukes Chair on PlatCom is currently vacant, and so your Hiroshima fixation might fill that void. :-)

Paulie, neither LRC piece addresses the decrypted diplomatic traffic, and all the post-hoc claims about Japaneses helplessness are sharply at odds with the contemporaneous military estimates given in the source I cited.

Rather than rathole on contingent historical questions here, I’d rather ask you: by trying to make an empirical case against the atomic bombing of Japan, aren’t you in effect conceding that atomic warfare against industrial centers could under some circumstances be the least bad available option?

Micheal, there’s no bright line regarding education, but I’d say we’re clearly over it when we’re doing work that Cato or Reason or LvMI etc. could do or has already done.

So, Tom, how many Asian civilian deaths per month would outweigh the value of keeping your hands clean? Are you telling us that no price is too high, or that you magically know that atomic coercion can never work in any possible universe?

I claim that the fundamental ethical question here reduces to the Are you going to ride the principled clean-hands defense all the way to absurdity, or are you going to abandon it and seek refuge in Susan’s ostrich defense?

P.S. Tom, how many hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths per month did Manson claim the Tate-LaBianca murders prevented? Sorry, but that analogy doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Paulie gets the prize, for recognizing that this comes down to a question of lifeboat ethics, and how/whether such ethics generalize to other situations.

Equating Hiroshima with fetishistic Manson-style murder for murder’s sake is just ethically illiterate. However, it has the double merit of both demonizing those one disagrees with, and saving oneself from a lot of inconvenient grownup-style thinking about hard choices.

Jim, I've personally schooled Stinnett on his errors:  I agree with you that millions of lives were arguably saved by dropping the bomb, which of course absolutely nobody claims about the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Does the SOP imply anarchism?  Answer is at

Gary, Marc was saying -- correctly -- that I dragged him into this conversation.  I did so to annihilate Tom Sipos's claim that reformer purge fears are "projection".

Tom Knapp, it's just silly of you to say I asked you to abstract the facts from history.  What I asked you to do was to take a stand on a general principle.  You then fled the scene, and retreated to arguments by assertion about a particular historical event.

The historical facts I cite at remain unrebutted.  Since you apparently won't read it, here's an excerpt: "Meanwhile, two months of horrendous fighting ashore on Okinawa under skies filled with kamikazes convinced the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, that he should withdraw his prior support for at least the invasion of Kyushu. Nimitz informed King of this change in his views in strict confidence. In August, the Ultra revelations propelled the Army and Navy towards a showdown over the invasion. On August 7 (the day after Hiroshima, which no one expected to prompt a quick surrender), General Marshall reacted to weeks of gathering gloom in the Ultra evidence by asking General Douglas MacArthur, who was to command what promised to be the greatest invasion in history, whether invading Kyushu in November as planned still looked sensible. MacArthur replied, amazingly, that he did not believe the radio intelligence! He vehemently urged the invasion should go forward as planned. (This, incidentally, demolishes later claims that MacArthur thought the Japanese were about to surrender at the time of Hiroshima.) On August 9 (the day the second bomb was dropped, on Nagasaki), King gathered the two messages in the exchange between Marshall and MacArthur and sent them to Nimitz. King told Nimitz to provide his views on the viability of invading Kyushu, with a copy to MacArthur. Clearly, nothing that had transpired since May would have altered Nimitz's view that Olympic was unwise. Ultra now made the invasion appear foolhardy to everyone but MacArthur."

Even after Nagasaki, there was a military coup to stop Hirohito's surrender address from being broadcast. The Prime Minister's residence was burned, the radio station was taken over, and the commander of the imperial guard was killed, but the plotters could not find the secreted surrender recording in the darkness of a fortuitous air-raid blackout. The coup leader Maj. Kenji Hatanaka committed suicide after the plot failed. The History Channel turned this into a documentary built around the idea that this fortuitous B-29 raid was the one that actually ended the war. See

Paulie, you here repeat the mistaken claim that the LP membership Pledge excludes non-anarchists, and yet in the same breath complain about an essay by Hospers being used to ask anarchists not to feed a long-standing perception about their behavior?  YOU are the one doing the "disinviting".  Asking people to be civil is NOT "disinviting".  I see no sign that "the ruling faction of the LP right now does in fact wish to kick anarchists out".  I'm a cop on the beat looking for those signs, and they're not there.  However, I note that you just said "we are certainly in no position to disinvite minarchist LP members".  That make me worry what would happen if the LP were 90% anarchists instead of 90% non-anarchists.

Susan Hogarth, it's ironic that you can criticize the moral courage of Truman's decision given the choices actually facing him in early August 1945, but when I ask you to merely hypothetically put yourself in his shoes, you flee to your time machine and go back five years to cancel the war.  And it's downright hilarious that you can whine about "subtle sabotage" after introducing this Hiroshima "advocacy of mass murder" canard out of the blue in response to a compliment for the leadership of the Reform Caucus.  I call it a "fixation" because you have on several occasions invoked my analysis of Truman's options as some kind of character defect of mine -- pretty much whenever you can't answer my arguments for LP reform (e.g. at  I guarantee you'll again invoke it during our PlatCom debates -- it's in a little mental box of yours labeled "In case of Holtz winning argument, break glass".

Your "pinch of freedom" remains a straw man, and I'll just repeat my unrebutted diagnosis: the only “more freedom” language here is about what is wanted by the voters we seek to unite. What WE want is to “move public policy in a libertarian direction”. What constitutes “a libertarian direction” for public policy is described in the Platform. Calling that a “modicum/dash/pinch” is just inane.  I stand by my claim that you have repeatedly resorted to such content-free straw men in our past discussions, and that continuing this pattern in our PlatCom discussions will be less than productive.

Trent, don't worry, the odds of your one vote putting me in the White House are almost as low as the chance that my administration would ever find itself 1) in an war of industrial attrition against an empire slaughtering 300,000 innocents a month while 2) having a tiny nuclear inventory constituting a nuclear monopoly whose terrible power that empire does not yet understand.  If you think such counterfactuals have any relevance whatsoever on the question of whether the LP should officially advocate abolition of all government, well then, I congratulate Susan on the effectiveness of her Big Smear tactics.