The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Understanding Leadership Responsibility For Death, Harm & Welfare

In the law there is a crime known as criminal negligence.

Criminal negligence is the failure on the part of a person on whom a duty is placed to take reasonable steps to prevent a certain bad outcome from happening. Duties may or may not be specifically known to you. For instance, as a driver, you have a duty not to hurt others with your vehicle. You may or may not have known that.

Other examples of people who have duties to others include: parents owing a protective duty to their children, or employers/supervisors at work owing a duty to their workers.

Let’s extend this. When you have authority, if you do something a reasonable person should know would cause harm, you are responsible for that harm.

All positions of power come with duties. American Presidents like to whinge on about how they have a duty to protect Americans, but the actual sworn duty is to uphold the Constitution. All leaders in any sane system are broadly responsible for the welfare of the people they rule and for the consequences of the actions they take, even on non-citizens.

If you go to war, like George W. Bush did, you know that a lot of bad things will happen: deaths, injuries, rapes, property destruction and so on. So you are responsible for all of those deaths. Therefore if you go to war without sufficient reason, you are a criminal. This is true for Obama (Libya, Yemen) and Trump as well (all the ongoing wars he could stop but hasn’t.) It is true of drone murders, both because they kill innocents and because they violate any reasonable reading of the Constitution (due process of law.)

It is also true of creating a medical system that kills tens of thousands of people a year. If you raise the price of drugs so that people can’t afford them without sufficient justification (aka. production and distribution costs have gone up that much), you know people will die. You are guilty of negligent mass murder.

Politicians and bureaucrats have positive duties: to see to the welfare of the people they oversee.

The same is true of corporate officers, or should be. Corporations are bundles of very valuable rights, given to corporations by the people, in the expectation that corporations will increase public welfare. A corporation which does not increase public welfare has broken that bargain and the officers have failed in their positive duty. Likewise the expectation is that the corporation will not actively do harm, certainly not harm that outweighs the good it does.

When you analyze various leaders in society thru this lens it becomes quickly clear who is doing their job and who isn’t. The Federal Reserve deliberately crushed wages for decades. That was deliberate harm, and they knew it. They deliberately made sure that full employment was not reached, which is in direct violation of the explicit aims of their institution.

Trump swore to uphold the constitution and repeatedly violated the prohibitions against profitting from public office. All Presidents of the past decades have supported laws that violate the first and fourth amendments, and do so very clearly.

And so on and so forth.

If a reasonable person, with the knowledge expected of someone in the role (aka. a drug executive should know the result of price increases of drugs, that’s a basic competency of the job) are responsible for the affects of their decisions. Since all of them exist to increase, at the least, the welfare of society, if they do things they know will decrease that welfare, then they have, at best, been negligent, and probably criminally negligent.

This the floor for how leaders in society, whether private or public, should be judged. This doesn’t mean they can never do anything to hurt anyone, many public decisions involve trade-offs, and sometimes harming a few is required to aid the many. A simple example would be a wealth tax. Bezos and Gates would squeal and feel badly done by, but many people would be better off as a result.

If a result of an action or policy is what a reasonable person in that role would expect to happen, leaders can be judged by it. Going to war has obvious consequences. Drone murders with big explosions have obvious consequences. Helping Saudi Arabia keep food out of Yemen has obvious consequences. Keeping life-saving drugs from Iran and Iraq has obvious consequences. Dropping progressive taxes thru the floor and taxing capital gains lower than earned income has obvious consequences. Massively raising insulin prices has obvious consequences. Treating warehouse workers like automata has obvious consequences (acknowledged in at least one case by keeping an ambulance outside an Amazon warehouse.)

When we fail to hold our leadership to “you are responsible for the obvious consequences of your decisions” our leadership no longer serves the people or their welfare, but only the welfare of the very few they decide to care about. At that point they become not leaders, but rulers, and we their subject and in all but name: serfs. Disposable assets to be used up as they see fit, for their benefit, not ours.

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American and Sending Your Children Back To School In September? Bad Idea


America Is About to Feel Like a Third World Nation


  1. GlassHammer

    Do we extend this line of thinking to the 4th, 5th, and 6th in the line of command?

    I would argue that they (those further down chain) are the intended recipient of the message “You will be held to account.”

    The current leader is normally fairly set in there ways and punishments/rewards will only move them a bit.

  2. GM

    There is a lot to be answered for in the whole COVID story that, simply because so much has happened since December, January and February, and so much more is yet to happen, may eventually be successfully swept under the rug.

    But the amount of incompetence and blindness to obvious to everyone facts that is needed to explain what happened without invoking deliberate genocidal maliciousness is just unbelievable.

    The WHO was claiming that the virus isn’t human-to-human transmissible for weeks and months after it was abundantly clear there is rampant human-to-human transmission, then it kept advising against closing borders until about March the 1st or so, when dozens of countries had it, and in places like Iran the situation was already a complete disaster, then it waited to declare a pandemic until some 120 countries had reported cases, and all throughout it provided misleading information about various aspects of the virus for many months after that information had been clearly shown wrong by publicly available data.

    Are the people at the WHO such idiots or that was done deliberately?

    But the WHO pales in comparison to the reaction of the US government. For everyone working in the relevant fields, watching in real time how the CDC could not put together a test for more than 6 weeks while prohibiting academic and hospital labs from developing and deploying their own tests (in case it has been forgotten, the first identified outbreak in the Seattle area was only discovered when scientists at UW went rogue, ignored the CDC, and did their own tests) just screamed “deliberate sabotage”. First, it is just not the case that nobody at the CDC knows how to design working PCR primers, second, who in their right mind would ban others from testing on their own in a situation in which every hour is of the essence? There was even a period when samples had to be sent to Atlanta for analysis….

    And then there is the question of what the government was doing. Is anyone seriously believing that the US government spends in the neighborhood of 100 billion a year on a sprawling empire of intelligence agencies that watch every corner of the globe 24/7 and yet it somehow missed what was happening in Wuhan, then ignored the very publicly available in the news information about the lockdown there for another 6 weeks?

    So we either have an incomprehensible amount of incompetence and willful blindness.

    Or we are where we are now because the people in charge deliberately worked towards it.

    Even if it was simple mere incompetence, there has to be consequences. We are talking millions of entirely preventable deaths, permanent disability for many more, and economic ruin for a majority of the population. This is not just any regular screw up.

    But if it was deliberate, we are talking about the very definition of crimes against humanity, for which death penalties have to he handed out. And while there are different levels of nefariousness:

    1) Mild scenario: nothing was done to stop the virus because closing borders would have hurt the economy, then things of course spiraled out of control, which was not the intention

    2) Monstrous scenario: the pandemic provided an amazing opportunity for the engineering of a massive upwards transfer of wealth like no other in the past, but for that to happen, the virus had to be left to spread

    3) Absolutely monstrous scenario: it was released from the very beginning for that or some other purpose.

    #3 I consider highly unlikely, but even the mild scenario is damning enough, because if “not hurting the economy” was the driving motivation, the question of “whose economy” immediately comes up, and it all quickly devolves again to something close to #2. So something like 2). perhaps in between 1) and 2) is probably what happened in practice.

    Which is more than enough to warrant another Nuremberg trial, and it would not be just Trump and those around him, that should be sentenced, after all all the key relevant legislation was passed with unanimous bipartisan support….

    But will that ever happen? Of course not…

  3. Watt4Bob

    I’d say we’ve passed the point of criminal negligence in many places, and passed into the realm of depraved-indifference.

  4. Plague Species

    Great points, GM. Sadly, there are no longer any investigative journalists remaining with the nuts to investigate this. They’ve all been neutralized. From my vantage, it certainly seems deliberate. Also, no one is going to hold anyone to account related to this, be it criminal negligence or outright purposeful crimes against humanity. The only way to hold these creeps to account is a bloody revolution where the top 5% are dragged out into the public square for a show trial before the people’s court and then summarily executed for all the world to see, but we also know that will never happen and instead we get tweets and blog posts as a stand in for justice.

    I watched an excellent movie the other evening. The Parallax View. If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest it. It’s a glimpse into who and what is really in charge of the show. It’s fiction, sure, but only just barely.

    the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions, e.g. through the viewfinder and the lens of a camera.

  5. anon

    The majority of Americans do not hold their leaders accountable. They are tribal in their politics and only understand what is happening in Washington on a very surface level. Republicans will attack Obama and Clinton for doing the same things that Democrats will attack Trump and W. Bush (at one time) for doing. At this point, many Democrats have accepted W. Bush into the fold because he is friendly with the Obamas and the Clintons. I’ve only seen progressives – people that mainstream Democrats consider fringe left wingers or socialists – not forgiving W. Bush for his war crimes. This pandemic has shown that Americans might be the among the most ignorant, selfish, and least educated people in the developed world for refusing to wear masks and socially distance. I have no idea how many years or decades it will take for a progressive liberal like Bernie Sanders or someone to the left of him to win the American presidency. Americans are getting what they have voted for these last three decades.

  6. Keith in Modesto

    This is a great post and I have some thoughts on it, but that will have to wait as I have to get ready to leave for work. But I just wanted to point out (because although it isn’t *really* important, it kind of is important), I’m pretty sure that in the sentence below, the word “affects” should be the word “effects”:

    “If a reasonable person, with the knowledge expected of someone in the role (aka. a drug executive should know the result of price increases of drugs, that’s a basic competency of the job) are responsible for the affects of their decisions.”

  7. bruce wilder

    The majority of Americans do not hold their leaders accountable. They are tribal in their politics and only understand what is happening in Washington on a very surface level

    The ruling elites in the U.S. do not face consequences themselves for being wrong and doing wrong, as has been discussed here before. The fish rots from the head, and

  8. Ché Pasa

    We’re slouching toward revolution. It may not come soon, or it may come tomorrow. It’s in the nature of revolutions to break out when they are least expected. I’d still keep an eye on France, a nation of Revolutions, where the breaking point (now against Macron’s neoliberal death cult) is always nigh.

    I’ve been noticing curious realignments of the angry and (in many cases) dispossessed. Ammon Bundy, for example, expresses his support for BLM (not the Bureau of Land Management!) He encourages his supporters to get behind the BLM movement and urges them to recognize commonality and mutual interest. I’ve seen stories that both Boogaloo Bois and some of the other would be uncivil warriors have been trying to make common cause with those who’ve been in the streets for months now.

    Yet yesterday there was a Senate hearing ostensibly on civil liberties that was purpose-designed by Ted Cruz to whip up a frenzy of hate for “antifa”. Jonathan Turley testified about the ANTIFA Handbook (available on Amazon) as if he understood anything that was in it. He does not. But then, that’s the thing.

    If you want to see ignorance and incompetence, look to the White House and congress, look to your local and state governments as well. They have practically no idea what’s going on except in their tight little bubbles. There’s tremendous movement, partly driven by the virus and economic collapse, outside their ken. They can only try to buy off, smash and dominate the outer darkness. It doesn’t work.

    But they have no other means or ideas. And don’t forget who they serve. The ignorance and incompetence of the moneyed classes is, if anything, greater than that of their servants in government.

  9. nihil obstet

    GM above writes:

    Is anyone seriously believing that the US government spends in the neighborhood of 100 billion a year on a sprawling empire of intelligence agencies that watch every corner of the globe 24/7 and yet it somehow missed what was happening in Wuhan, then ignored the very publicly available in the news information about the lockdown there for another 6 weeks?

    I believe it. The intelligence agencies aren’t looking for information. They’re looking for propaganda opportunities. What was happening in Wuhan didn’t seem to offer any good China-bashing at first, or any armaments-goosing demand, so the situation didn’t warrant attention. Even if on-the-ground spies reported it, it would have been weeded out at a fairly low level.

    Over the past 40 years, government officials have gotten into positions of responsibility by being blind.

  10. Hugh

    I agree with Ian. In the past, I cast this problem in terms of acting in bad faith. It doesn’t matter if someone says a thousand times a day that they were acting in good faith or it wasn’t their fault because hoocoodanode. If any reasonable person can see they should have known, then they are acting in bad faith. I can’t stress enough that the bar for this determination is really low. I’m not talking fine or debatable points. If someone is defending in any way, shape, or form sending further trillions to the rich, another senseless war, or ignoring the suffering of the many, that’s bad faith.

    I agree too with anon. Our politics are tribal. We keep talking about R and D’s but we need to make our political decisions on who is delivering good healthcare to us, steady, good paying jobs, good education and retirements, who’s serious about climate change. It isn’t about the person. That’s just an invitation to misdirection. It’s the results –not the brand, not the excuses.

  11. Mark Pontin

    gm wrote: ‘So we either have an incomprehensible amount of incompetence and willful blindness. Or we are where we are now because the people in charge deliberately worked towards it?’

    It’s both. This is true in more than just general terms that the U.S. is and has mostly always been a kleptocracy.

    To be specific, Trump himself is incompetent; the staff of his administration is *not*, once you understand who most of them really work for. Furthermore, as mainstream establishment figures like Tillerson, Mattis, Bolton, McMasters, etc. fled the Trump administration, using words like ‘moron’ and ‘idiot’, the real owners of his administration have had no compunctions about installing more of their own people there.

    Yes, figures in the Trump administration have deliberately worked towards the current situation: this is not a conspiracy theory, much as I wish it were. What’s as interesting is that in all the continual TDS hysteria the mainstream media hasn’t reported that instead of going with the ludicrous Putin/Russkigate stupidity.

  12. Mark Pontin

    gm also wrote: ‘Is anyone seriously believing that the US government spends in the neighborhood of 100 billion a year on a sprawling empire of intelligence agencies that watch every corner of the globe 24/7 and yet it somehow missed what was happening in Wuhan, then ignored the very publicly available in the news information about the lockdown there for another 6 weeks?’

    Two points.

    [1] The US intel agencies almost entirely failed to predict and believe the fall of the Soviet Union, because of their ideological preconceptions.

    [2] In fact, they *did* brief Trump on the Wuhan virus back in January (maybe a little late, admittedly). Trump didn’t pay attention because of *his* ideological priors, cognitive issues, and personal wish-list that the ‘greatest economy in the world” be maintained through to the election.

    His staff might have taken note, but (see my comment above) the last thing their real employers wanted and want was an effective Federal government response to anything.

  13. NL

    I am sorry but the post seems to be a bit of misrepresentation of how the American political system works + a bit of some wishful thinking.

    In the American political system, politicians are held accountable by losing the office through not being re-elected and in some places recalled. This can happen because a) they did not fulfill the expectations of the oligarchy, b) shifts in the warring oligarchic camps, c) people got sick of them. The job of the politician is to placate the people and execute the political program of the decision making oligarchs and their specialists. They put a show for us. Like right now with this ‘stimulus’ thing. Looks like the decision making oligarchic camps would be in favor of stopping further support for the populace and let the process of adjustment begin. I understand. Further money creation (although some say they are not money but reserves, but by some counts 20-40% of the 2008 crisis reserves became money by 2019 + of course direct payments to people) will wrack the dollar. Look at gold, SWIFT payments in dollar were 40% in 2019, it is probably less so now (although it was lower after the 2008 thing). The threat is not yuan or euro, the threat to the dollar dominance is special drawing rights.

    But I digress, while the oligarchic technocrats working on an oligarchic consensus and figuring out what to do, the politicians and chilling and waiting for their marching orders:
    “The House is on a break now, but members have been told they would be called back with 24 hours notice to vote on any virus relief legislation.” (from Bloomberg).

    There is a stable of politicians, when people get sick with one, there is another one. Who cares…
    they are interchangeable. The parties are two empty cans pepsi and coke… with some shiny identity politics stickers on top.

    It takes courage to discuss things that matter…

  14. S Brennan

    I don’t see how the general public can follow this advice “we need to make our political decisions on who is delivering” when both dominate groups work together to deliver only to the uppermost portion society.

    That’s not to say the uppermost class can’t follow your advice “we need to make our political decisions on who is delivering” but it’s silly advice for proles to follow.

  15. Ian Welsh

    The post doesn’t describe how the American system works, no.


  16. S Brennan

    Ian I was actually referring to Hugh’s comment…should’ve call that out, my bad

  17. Ché Pasa

    The catastrophe on top of so many other catastrophes in Beirut seems to be an example of criminal negligence on yet another enormous scale. The ammonium nitrate had been stored in that warehouse for years, and there had been numerous unheeded warnings of the danger. Apparently, someone decided to store fireworks in the same building. Whut? The fireworks caught fire and exploded. After a while, the ammonium nitrate exploded with predictable and predicted results, destroying most of the port, and a large part of the city causing thousands of deaths and injuries. I just read a story about an elderly dog so frightened by the explosion that she jumped out of a shattered window to her death six stories below. I’m sure the rubble will disclose many other sad, sad stories.

    And it might not have happened if the people who should have listened to the warnings had acted responsibly. They didn’t. Why not? What has been happening to Lebanon for decades? How does that shape one’s sense of responsibility? Who or what is one looking out for?

    Most of us who are outside the Middle East aren’t a whole lot better off, are we? We certainly don’t have responsible leadership — or in some cases any leadership — concerned about the general welfare, do we?

    Shaking my head.

  18. Hugh

    Yes, let us all sit on our hands and hope for something different. The fact js there are things we can and should start doing. The system is rigged against us and run by and for the rich and elites. This does not mean we can’t filter the bilge they are stuffing and controlling us with.

  19. Bruce

    I wish those people, those people who are supposed to take care of us, I wish they would just be responsible and take care of us. Is that too much to ask?

    But what if, if, there is actually no way for them to do it? What if the system, like a broken-down horse, just can’t do what it used to? I mean, you can beat it all you want, but what if it is not the same as it was 5, 10, 25, 50 years ago?

    Capitalism is simply no longer capable of helping us.

    But since everyone believes it impossible to do without capitalism (even when they say they don’t like it), our suffering will continue.

  20. Stirling S Newberry

    Trump is part of a unit of society that feels “doing nothing except allow the rich more power” is almost always the correct decision. Thus nothing for the people but billions for the airlines.

  21. somecomputerguy

    Slightly on a tangent, and in anticipation of Aug 6;
    See also comments on the second post.

    Tendentious Summary;

    No, Truman did not decide to drop the bomb to scare Stalin or for any other reason; he intervened to stop its use.

    Truman did this because the military’s existing plan was to use atomic bombs at a rate of three to four a month, as fast as they came off the assembly line.

    My reading is that the most likely reason Truman intervened to prevent further use of nuclear weapons is that he was horrified, because that is what he told his cabinet immediately after deciding to not drop the bomb.

    No, it was not a choice between dropping the bomb or invading. The atomic bombings were not a substitute for an invasion, they were a part of it.

    The march ’45 firebombing of Tokyo had killed more people than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Carpet bombing Japanese cities was routine.

    Three weeks before Hiroshima, the Japanese ambassador to the USSR sent a telegram to his foreign minister asserting that they should secure the status of the emperor in exchange for surrender.
    The foreign minister rejected that position and replied with an unacceptable list of conditions were probably intended to make sure the same people were calling the shots behind the scenes, post war. This was the status of Japanese surrender efforts.

    This was read by the allies at the time.

    As for the status of the emperor being an easy concession, large majorities of the American people considered him a war criminal, just like Hitler, and they were probably right.

    It is still not clear whether the atomic bombings or the Soviet invasion forced surrender, or whether both were required, but the suffering of the Japanese people seems to be absent as a consideration, at least, on the Japanese side.

    So, how should we assign elite culpability here?

  22. Bruce

    Do you, or anyone reading this, believe in capitalism, of however meek a version you think there can be?

  23. Dan

    Treat yourself to a double feature: The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor.

    Or you could just read everything Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski wrote over his lifetime.

    There are no words to describe these people.

  24. Stirling S Newberry

    COVID-19 and Control Theory

  25. BlizzardOfOzzz

    It’s funny, Ian’s readers are out of the mainstream in some ways, but you guys are basically normies on this. You don’t even know that temporary powers seized will prove to be permanent? I thought you would have learned that from the Patriot Act, at least.

    Do I really need to enumerate all the “temporary” powers that now govern you? Let’s just take one: rule by diktat. If your local tinpot dictator can make up an rule he wants, give it some fig leaf about a “virus”, and that is now law. You can’t leave your house, your kids can’t play in the playground, you have to close your business … And you can be sure there will always be a virus, at least until they can find some other or better pretext (which shouldn’t be too hard).

  26. BlizzardOfOzzz

    (sorry, posted in the wrong thread)

  27. Steve Ruis

    Let’s see …

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States …

    Preamble: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, …

    I am startin’ to suspect them federal guvmit folks don’t have our best interests to heart.

  28. Thomas B Golladay

    @Che Pasa

    Port of Beruit was locally known as the den of Ali Baba and the forty thieves. It was that corrupt. That nitrate was illegally seized, the owner refused to pay ransom, and it was then just dumped in storage. The port authorities took constant bribes, failed to do safety inspections, failed to collect customs fees and proper accounting. And compounding the mess: This port handled 80% of Lebanons food imports and exports and was close to its most advanced hospitals and covid treatment centers.

    Now the Lebanese are demanding the heads of those responsible.

  29. Ian Welsh

    Among others, Douglas MacArthur thought the bombs were unnecessary. Indeed 7 of the 8 top military officers shared that assessment. Americans don’t want to think that they’re a bunch of war criminals, but by pretending that they needed to be monsters, they prove that they haven’t learned a thing and would still do the wrong thing. (Also the fire bombings were war crimes and everyone involved should also have been hung.)

    We have bad leaders in large part because we want them, and make excuses for their evil.

  30. Plague Species

    MacArthur was an enigma. He considered the bombs unnecessary with Japan but clamored to use them against China. Let’s face it, if he called for the bombing of China, nukes would have been part of that bombing whether he intended for them to be or not.

    I truly believe the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan as a live experiment to determine just how effective they could be in a live exercise on real targets. Truman even referred to the dropping of the bombs as an experiment.

    Days later when Hiroshima was destroyed, Truman broke the news to his shipmates aboard the USS Augusta, saying, “The experiment has been an overwhelming success.” The Nagasaki bombing was his second nuclear “experiment.”

    It’s sickening either way, but then again, the Japanese were monstrous also and the Japanese citizens were every bit as brainwashed and deluded as American citizens. I blame Marcus Samuel and Royal Dutch Shell for providing the impetus for Japan to industrialize. If not for Samuel and Royal Dutch Shell, Japan would have remained mired in feudalism for at least several more decades thus precluding any nationalistic world dominating aspirations.

    The irony of those on the left and far left in their embracing of Trump as a foil against NeoLiberalism is that a nuclear war with China is now much more probable with Trump in “command.” There’s an old adage. Careful what you wish for. And no, this is not apologia for Hillary. She is and would have been equally onerous in her own right, but I doubt she would have nuked China. Trump, with Pompeo as Secretary of State, just might, especially if he gets a second term and I believe he will — get a second term.

  31. Ian Welsh

    That MacArthur thought they were necessary against China but no Japan sort of emphasizes that in his case the judgment was military. They were not needed in Japan.

    And as for Korea, if victory meant holding the entire peninsula, he may have been right. (They shouldn’t have been used for various reasons, but militarily perhaps they’d have made the difference.)

    The amount of conventional bombs dropped on Korea was insane, and the casualties were about 10% of the population (not all due to the bombs, of course.)

  32. Ian Welsh

    With respect to Japan, the White Ships taught them that colonialism and imperialism was how things were done and that if they didn’t industrialize and militarize they would be completely at the mercy of more advanced powers.

    When you teach people that the only thing that matters is power, that the powerful can do as they will, and that they are weak, don’t be surprised if they get the message and do everything they can to become strong–just like you. Let us remember what the US did in the Philippines, too.

    The Japanese had good teachers and learned well.

    And yeah, some really evil shit. I had uncles who were in the far east during the war. Some of them never stopped hating the Japanese as long as they lived.

    As for Trump/Clinton, the issue was that Clinton has a deranged hatred of Russia. Who have more nukes, a lot more, than China.

    The anti-China stuff is bipartisan, as an aside. I still have enough contacts to know this. The Democratic elite hate China just as much, they just wanted a more multilateral approach against China. (B&R is aimed to prevent this. The Chinese have known their weaknesses and how the US would react when China started reaching parity or exceeding them.)

  33. Ché Pasa

    When I was growing up, the War in the Pacific was still celebrated as the Triumph of Civilization over the barbarous yellow peril, yada yada, but there was ambivalence over the use of atomic weapons on Japan, partly because at that time (mid-’50s) the US found itself under nuclear threat from the Soviet Union, later from Red China. Maybe that threat wouldn’t have existed if the US hadn’t developed and used nuclear weapons first.

    Korea was a shit show every which way. Nobody celebrated that war, but “it had to be done” to keep the perpetual yellow peril at bay. Truman was blamed for it, thus paving the way for Eisenhower/Nixon — who would bring peace in our time and an end to foreign adventuring (/s). Soon enough, Vietnam would follow on exactly the same pattern. Dominoes falling, yellow peril. Communists! Have to do it or the peril will invade the beaches of Santa Monica.

    Same argument over and over again. Same argument still. If we don’t defeat them now, they’ll overwhelm us with their numbers and cruelty.

  34. @GM

    “There is a lot to be answered for in the whole COVID story that, simply because so much has happened since December, January and February, and so much more is yet to happen, may eventually be successfully swept under the rug. ….”

    Excellent comment. BTW, I’ve often thought that a particular aspect of China bashing – viz., they shut down air traffic within China to Wuhan, but not the rest of the world – was laughable. Even when I thought it was true (I’ve since read that it’s not; don’t have a firm opinion on what should be a matter of fact), for the Chinese to do this, and the US intel agencies NOT to know, is impossible. If anything, that should have set off alarms at State Dept. and intel agencies. Ah, but try telling that to Sean Hannity.

    Another mystery about the poor response to COVID, by the US, is what genius, or geniuses, were really responsible for the White House closing the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, in 2018. Initially, I had read that Bolton was responsible. I’ve also seen video of Trump defending this decision – which may, or may not, have meant he played the key role in closing it. (I can see a scenario where Bolton made the call, subject to Trump’s approval; and that Trump rubber-stamped it, as Bolton may have characterized it as an unnecessary, Obama tinged entity, and thus, ipso facto, should be done away with.)

    Doing away with this entity reminds me of changed air defense procedures shortly before 911.

    The jihad against HCQ, taken in isolation, can be adequately appreciated simply from the point of the usual doings of the Medical Mafia. You don’t even need TDS (ignoring the media hyperbole, which is better explained as TDS). However, because covid inspired lockdowns have wrecked the economy, one could have reasonably hoped (I think) that an exception would have been made.

    There may be a worse, hidden agenda than the “usual” Medical Mafia doings, as forced, yearly vaccinations could become quite a treasure trove.

  35. Hugh

    The same class made up of our rich and elites are the ones who pushed the shipping of industry and jobs to China. Now parts of this same class are whining about the growing power of China. They seem to have no concept of cause and effect beyond what short term improves their pocketbook.

  36. Alan Coovert

    Speaking of driver responsibilities, every car is potential weapon and every driver a short fuse.

  37. Hugh

    Whether we are talking about the massive explosion in Beirut or the US response to the Coronavirus, we are experiencing more and more examples of “failing state” lapses of our ruling classes where they know what to do and have, or can get, the resources to do it, –but simply don’t, with devastating consequences for us expendables.

  38. Willy

    Personal responsibility is for thee, not me. Rule of Law has been bought.

  39. bruce wilder

    Japan had really bad leaders. Terrible people individually and as a class.

    I am not sure what purpose is served by building a narrative around the idea that compelling Japan’s surrender was somehow not an unsolved problem in July 1945.

  40. Bruce

    Yes, all of these things are here and worsening. Someone is to blame. But blame doesn’t cure.

    Someone is asked to care for others, but what if, apart from dubious intentions, that someone doesn’t know what they are doing? They may be assholes, but they’re also stupid. Does it make sense to keep begging them to do it?

    In the 50s, it was possible to have high taxes and profits at the same time. Thus, our nostalgia. But is it possible now? Because, if it is not, then conditions have truly changed and the customary tool we have always used, capitalism, is worn-out, hazardous and makes things worse.

  41. bruce wilder

    “capitalism” is not really “a thing”, a unified phenomenon that you can take to the returns counter at Sears and ask to exchange for something better.

    the most important functions of the politics of a republic and a representative democracy are holding leadership responsible to the People as a whole — the leaders — and this includes not just the politicians, but also journalists, economists and many others who assume a leadership role in politics — have to be dependent on those who vote for their authority and power. public opinion — informed public opinion — has to matter.

    public opinion does not much matter in American politics as careful and objective study by political scientists confirm. the really rich — mega-rich — and the executives who run often huge banks and business corporations and particular interest groups — they matter. and, the latter are predators or parasites, because that is the best use of political power for the few governing the many, when the many have ceded their capacity to constrain the few, those very few.

    the rich spend a lot of money for journamalism that makes readers and viewers stupid with insipid narratives; ditto for economists and economics. they do not make anyone smart really, they make varying groups stupid in different ways, so if they vote at all they effectively vote at random.

    capitalism, per se, is never on anyone’s ballot.

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