Friday, July 21, 2023

Hollywood Shocker: The Authors of the Book Behind Nolan's "Oppenheimer" Were Both Editors and Writers at "The Nation"

The New York Times seems to be deliriously in favor of the movie Oppenheimer, with assuring us in his New York Times piece that opposition to the Red Scare was good and principled, that he hopes that "Christopher Nolan’s stunning new film on Oppenheimer’s complicated legacy will initiate a national conversation", and that we can rest assured that even TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) — our words, not his — manages to be part of the equation.

the director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the New York Times tells us, as well as, more importantly, co-author with the late Martin J. Sherwin of “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer”, the book behind Christopher Nolan's "brilliant achievement in formal and conceptual terms".

Hmm, might there be something that the Times is not telling us about  in the intro to this column of his? We shall find out soon enough (below the color picture below, if you are pressed for time)… Update: Thanks for the Instalinks, Ed Driscoll and Sarah Hoyt

In any case, Bird writes: 

Celebrated in 1945 as the “father of the atomic bomb,” nine years later he would become the chief celebrity victim of the McCarthyite maelstrom.

And here is how initiate a national conversation" (which usually means "Shut up! And listen to the Drama Queens' fairy tales, exclusively, and accept them hook, line, 'n' sinker") with "informed civil discourse" leading to "wise policy decisions":

Sadly, Oppenheimer’s life story is relevant to our current political predicaments. Oppenheimer was destroyed by a political movement characterized by rank know-nothing, anti-intellectual, xenophobic demagogues. The witch-hunters of that season are the direct ancestors of our current political actors of a certain paranoid style. I’m thinking of Roy Cohn, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel, who tried to subpoena Oppenheimer in 1954, only to be warned that this could interfere with the impending security hearing against Oppenheimer. Yes, that Roy Cohn, who taught former President Donald Trump his brash, wholly deranged style of politics. Just recall the former president’s fact-challenged comments on the pandemic or climate change. This is a worldview proudly scornful of science.
Over ten years after Antony Beevor came out with astonishing revelations from the Kremlin's archives (his massive The Second World War was published in 2012), the historian's conclusions are still not accepted by the élites (they are not challenged — with arguments good or ill — they are simply ignored), leading them to call opposition to communism and to the USSR "a political movement characterized by rank know-nothing, anti-intellectual, xenophobic demagogues."

Astonishingly, [Oppenheimer] had gone so far as to say that the Hiroshima bomb was used “against an essentially defeated enemy.” The atomic bomb, he warned, “is a weapon for aggressors, and the elements of surprise and terror are as intrinsic to it as are the fissionable nuclei.” 

As Antony Beevor has shown, these "forthright dissents," however honestly believed, have proven to be false — since the atom bomb did do something which is nothing less than formidable (not in the Pacific theater, but in the European): prevent the Russians from making a U-turn, betraying its allies, refusing to halt the Red Army's advance, and proceeding with the conquest of the rest of the European continent. Science, anyone?

The Soviet Union's (secret) intentions and plans were confirmed after Antony Beevor spent time in Moscow, unearthing many a previously top secret document in the archives, and leading to his writing in his history of The Second World War about "the two pitiless totalitarian systems which fed off each other."

In the penultimate chapter, Cities of the Dead, Beevor writes that after the German capital fell in May 1945, the American ambassador to Moscow paid a visit to the Kremlin:

'It must be very pleasant for you', [Averell] Harriman said, making conversation, … 'to be in Berlin after all your country has suffered.'  The Soviet leader eyed him. … 'Tsar Alexander went all the way to Paris,' he replied.

That was not entirely a joke.  Well before Churchill's [notion of a war erupting between the Western allies and their USSR ally], a meeting of the Politburo in 1944 had decided to order the Stavka to plan for the invasion of France and Italy, a General Shtemenko later told Beria's son.  The Red Army offensive was to be combined with a seizure of power by the local Communist Parties.  In addition, Shtemenko explained, 'a landing in Norway was provided for, as well as the seizure of the straits [with Denmark].  A substantial budget was allocated for the realization of these plans.  It was expected that the Americans would abandon a Europe fallen into chaos, while Britain and France would be paralysed by their colonial problems.  The Soviet Union possessed 400 experienced divisions, ready to bound forward like tigers.  It was calculated that the whole operation would take no more than a month 

 … All these plans were aborted when Stalin learned from [Beria] that the Americans had the atom bomb and were putting it into mass production.'  Stalin apparently told Beria 'that if Roosevelt had still been alive, we would have succeeded'.  This, it seems, was the main reason why Stalin suspected that Roosevelt had been secretly assassinated

  … Stalin had achieved everything he wanted at Potsdam, even though he had been             forced to cancel the invasion of western Europe out of fear of the atom bomb

This is astounding news. Nothing less. What does it say about the use of the atomic bombs — not to mention, for that matter, "McCarthyism" along with the alleged paranoia regarding the later Red "Scare" as well as the alleged daftness of the American people?

As we can see, the revisionists and Post-facto critics not to mention communism admirers — quite a number of them, again, from Western Europe — who claim that Hiroshima had little military value but instead was a strategic ploy to impress Stalin do not realize that the Manhattan Project's atomic bomb did more, far more, and not in Asia and on the Pacific front but on the European front half a world away. 

It was indeed a sign — to the Red Army — and it did prevent Stalin from prolonging the war mercilessly after the Nazis' defeat and achieving his project to take over all of European continent. 

Why in post-war America and Western Europe should anyone (Joseph McCarthy first among them) be described as paranoid about a régime that, on the internal front, murders millions of its citizens — an average 1600 citizens died every day — and, on the external front, was indeed planning an invasion of Europe and the West (with the aid of those countries' communist parties) — submitting all conquered territories and countries to the same bloody internal policies as had occurred in Eastern Europe's Bloodlands?

More details here: • For the first two years of World War II, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were allies; Hitler and Stalin secretly planned and jointly began the war that inflicted such horror and destruction
• Stalin's Death at 70: Some Mind-Boggling Revelations About Stalin, World War II, and a Century of Russian History

Back to the New York Times.

This was the real tragedy of Oppenheimer. What happened to him also damaged our ability as a society to debate honestly about scientific theory — the very foundation of our modern world.

Hellooo! The right is quite willing to debate about scientific theory, honestly or otherwise, and about any other subject. It's the Left that shuts everyone but themselves down. 

Quantum physics has utterly transformed our understanding of the universe. And this science has also given us a revolution in computing power and incredible biomedical innovations to prolong human life. Yet, too many of our citizens still distrust scientists and fail to understand the scientific quest, the trial and error inherent in testing any theory against facts by experimenting. Just look at what happened to our public health civil servants during the recent pandemic.

Are you talking about the public health civil servants (Fauci first among them) who treated everyone like dirt? Isn't respect supposed to be mutual? How about this, Kai? If you want respect for civil servants and scientists (as well as for politicians and bureaucrats), let them show respect towards us. As well as towards their… colleagues! Meaning, first of all, not silencing people (not least fellow doctors and fellow… scientists!) who have reasons, good or ill, for disagreeing with you.

Kai Bird lives in such an echo chamber that he can't even process, or pretend to process, the (numerous and quite rational) challenges (no, not "fact-challenged" comments) that have arisen through the years, sorry through the decades, with regards, among many other subjects, to the Covid pandemic and to global warming.

We stand on the cusp of another technological revolution in which artificial intelligence will transform how we live and work, and yet we are not yet having the kind of informed civil discourse with its innovators that could help us to make wise policy decisions on its regulation. 

How do you propose to have "informed civil discourse" when people like yourself are always referring to people whom you you disagree with as "racists" or, to use your own preferred vocabulary, "rank know-nothing, anti-intellectual, xenophobic demagogues"?

Oh yes, we almost forgot: it turns out that what the New York Times does not tell you in its bio for the above-mentioned article is that Kai Bird (beardless, holding the book in 2006) also used to be an editor at The Nation. This is the type of individual the New York Times seeks to rely upon to bring you "all the news that's fit to print" — maybe not a communist, but something close thereto. 

Let that sink in: one of the authors of the book behind what the New York Times calls "Christopher Nolan’s complex, vivid portrait of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the 'father of the atomic bomb'” — "a brilliant achievement in formal and conceptual terms" — worked at The Nation and was therefore, in some capacity or other, close to communism and invariably doubling as an expert in spewing anti-Americanism.

Wait a minute. It turns out that: so was the other author

Whereas Kai Bird was "an associate editor of The Nation magazine from 1978 to 1982 and then a columnist for the magazine", Wikipedia informs us, Martin J Sherwin "served on the board of The Nation, to which he was a regular contributor. While a professor at Princeton University, he taught and mentored Katrina vanden Heuvel, now editor-in-chief of The Nation." (Unimportant aside: Since vanden Heuvel resigned in June 2021, Wikipedia is not always up to date…)

Where the authors purport to denounce "anti-intellectual[ism]", doesn't this make it likely that their book (as well as Nolan's movie?) is another (tired?) example of anti-Americanism?

And, to no one's surprise, the Pulitzer committee chose two Nation veterans to win their prestigious (?) award. Okay, fine. Maybe it turns out that theirs indeed was the best book of the year (Amazon shows thousands of positive votes amounting to 4.6/5 stars). But with the Pulitzer's choices through the the past few years — I mean, through the past eight to nine decades — you are allowed to show a slight degree of skepticism.

Now you might (especially if you are a leftist) say this is unfair and that we are being judgmental and that this is typical of conservatives' tiny and bigoted minds, but in that perspective, notice that conservatives are not the ones rushing to Amazon every time an adversary's book is published to try to drown the title under a deluge of one stars and laconic one-sentence attacks.

Oh, and don't forget: while the MSM is raving over Oppenheimer — and would poo-poo any mention of the original authors leaning communist as outdated and medieval — its members are going berserk over Sound of Freedom.

Whatever the case, the book's preface reads: "In the 1930s, at the University of California, Berkeley … he was moved by the consequences of the Great Depression at home and the rise of fascism abroad to work actively with friends —many of them fellow travelers and communists — in the struggle to achieve economic and racial justice." Notice how the book pointedly ignores to what degree the "fellow travelers" turned out to be, willingly or otherwise (i.e., "useful idiots"), Stalin's henchmen. 

The book's first chapter starts with a "bittersweet" memorial service in 1967 after the death of the "passionate advocate for social justice", with 600 attendees, among them "Robert's younger brother, Frank Oppenheimer, whose own career as a physicist had been destroyed during the McCarthyite maelstrom" — while conveniently not mentioning that the latter was a member of the Communist Party, as was, or as had been, Robert's own wife (at a time when being a member of a communist party, of any communist party in virtually any country, meant being an ally, and indeed an admirer, of Joseph Stalin, of the NKVD's/KGB's police state, and of the Kremlin's propaganda).

Some compared Oppie's 1954 "public humiliation to the 1633 trial of another scientist, Galileo Galilei, by a medieval-minded church; others … recalled the ordeal of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in France in the 1890s." Thus, nowhere in the preface and in the first half dozen chapters is the Stalinist threat, not to mention the Soviet Union's own trials (sic), ever mentioned, or even alluded to. 

“American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” is indeed a fascinating read, and  that explains why, while reading the first four or five chapters, I would occasionally look a name of a fellow student or colleague at the Harvard, Cambridge, and Göttingen universities up in Wikipedia, quite innocently, and be surprised to learn that, like his brother (Frank Oppenheimer), they were members of their respective countries' communist parties, something not mentioned in the Bird/Sherwin book I was reading (at least not until that point in the book).

Let us conclude this post with an all-important return to Wikipedia's Martin J Sherwin and Kai Bird pages: both men have been experts in nuclear weaponry for decades, we learn, which really means that they have been critical of nuclear weaponry for decades, but only the American or the Western kind, never or rarely the Soviets' nukes.

For instance, we learn that "Bird's biographical [?!] works include Hiroshima's Shadow: Writings on the Denial of History and the Smithsonian Controversy (1998), which he co-edited with Lawrence Lifschultz." The "Denial of History"? I can't say that I have read this book, but if you remember 1995's Smithsonian controversy at all, it was that a display of the Enola Gay Superfortress contained wording to the effect that (wait for it) racism (!) was behind the USA's war in the Pacific (conveniently leaving out he fatc that in the European theater, America's "racist" G.I.s were fighting blond, blue-eyed Aryans — aka, I suppose, white supremacists) or at least behind the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Holy Molly. It has been racism from Day One for the left's fanatics and their "national conversations". From one museum's display generating controversy across the land to the preposterous 1619 Project being eagerly accepted by a plethora of schools and universities from sea to shining sea, an end must be put to these fairy tales by the usual Drama Queens.

The Department of Education must be abolished. 

Forthwith. Nothing is more urgent than that.

Update: Yes, Oppenheimer Was a Communist b

Even when Bird and Sherwin published their award-winning biography in 2005, there was already abundant evidence that Oppenheimer had indeed once been a member of the Communist Party of the United States.

 … Even before the evidence from the Russian archives, proof that Oppenheimer had been a Communist did not emerge from his enemies or from unreliable witnesses or ambivalent phrases in sketchy documents. Several of his friends, acquaintances, and graduate students—all of whom remained left-wingers—wrote memoirs or gave interviews in which they detailed Oppie’s membership in the Communist Party.

 … [The] new evidence … comes from the Vassiliev Notebooks. These are copies and summaries of documents from the KGB archive that we discussed extensively in our 2009 book, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America.

 … The evidence by the mid-1940s was that he had left his earlier Communist allegiance behind and was anything but a party sympathizer. But one of the major contributing factors to his loss of security access was his own unwillingness to provide a candid and honest account of his earlier Communist ties and why he had put them aside. If he continued to lie about such matters, how could he now be trusted?

• Hiroshima 15: Examining the Issues Surrounding the Dropping of Atomic Bombs on Japan (Erik Svane) 

• Hiroshima 17: During WWII, Japan Killed 7 Times More People (Most of Them Civilians) than They Lost (Victor Davis Hanson) 

• Hiroshima 18: The Imperial Japanese Army was every bit as evil as the Nazi SS, and more lethal (Trent Telenko)

• Hiroshima 19: The Horrific Treatment of Civilians During Japan's "Reign of Terror"

• Hiroshima 14: "I regard Hiroshima revisionism as the greatest hoax in American history" (Robert Maddox)

• Hiroshima 13: Although It Is Not Said Openly, Hiroshima Also Played a Purifying Role, IE the Baptism of a New Japan, the Event that Put an End to 50 Years of Crimes (Le Monde)

• Hiroshima 20: The Day the Pilot Who Led the Attack on Pearl Harbour Met the Pilot of the Enola Gay

• Hiroshima 12: Political Correctness in Japan: The comment "tramples on the feelings of victims", so… Shut the F**k Up and Lose Your Job! (re the forced resignation of Japan's defense (!) minister)

• Hiroshima 11: If Western elites cannot find perfection in history, they see no good at all; most never learned the narrative of WWII, only what was wrong about it (Victor Davis Hanson)

• Hiroshima 10: If Not for the Atom Bombs, Japan, as we know it today, would not exist (S L Sanger, author of “Working on the Bomb”)

• Hiroshima 9: Over one million warning leaflets were dropped over Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and 33 other Japanese cities 5 days before the Hiroshima bombing (Bill Whittle)

• Hiroshima 8: Was It Wrong to Use the Atom Bomb on Japan? (Father Wilson Miscamble)

• Hiroshima 7: Some Facts About Hiroshima and World War II That You Hear Neither From America's MSM, University Élites, and History Books, Nor From Japan's (New York Times)

• Hiroshima 16: Did Japan's top officers know a bomber was approaching Nagasaki, 5 hours beforehand, and do nothing?

• Hiroshima 6: "Lance or spear practice was a regular women's exercise to practice for the anticipated U.S. landing" (a Japanese American)

• Hiroshima 5: Japan's plans for defense involved mobilizing the civilian population, including women and children, for the customary suicidal battle tactics (Thomas Sowell)

• Hiroshima 4: "Les 300 000 morts d'Hiroshima ont épargné bien davantage de Japonais, qui auraient été écrasés sous des bombes ordinaires" (Charles de Gaulle)

• Hiroshima 3: A mainland invasion could have resulted in millions of Japanese deaths—and that's not counting civilians (Wall Street Journal)

• Hiroshima 2: Hand-wringing over Hiroshima is just virtue-signaling by people who never said a bad word about Stalin or Mao’s mass murders (Glenn Reynolds)

• Hiroshima 1: Unlike the ends of the majority of conflicts, World War II in the Pacific grew increasingly bloody as U.S. forces approached the Japanese homeland (Erik Svane)

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Adios, Amigo: RIP Carlos Alberto Montaner, Author of “The Manual of the Perfect Latin American Idiot”

Carlos Alberto Montaner
is no longer among us, writes José de Córdoba in the Wall Street Journal

Montaner, who during a more than half-century career wrote thousands of columns and more than two dozen books and novels, was a leading Castro critic, especially known in Latin America where his columns were widely syndicated.  
As I was building my personal website 20 years ago without understanding much of the internet, it was his weblog, El Blog de Montaner (then with yellow or cream colors dominating and under possibly a slightly different name), that influenced me the most, possibly because it also was in two languages. Then I learned of his book, “The Manual of the Perfect Latin American Idiot,” and both blog and best-seller were a revelation that I quoted a number of times on the blog which I was invited to join the following year (2004, the very blog that you are reading now).

Montaner, along with two other Latin American co-authors, wrote “The Manual of the Perfect Latin American Idiot,” published in Spanish in 1996. The book, which ridiculed the left for blaming Latin America’s ills chiefly on the U.S., became a bestseller, sparking debate throughout Latin America.

I admit that I hadn't read him in years, but I'm glad I didn't learn that in 2020, CAM had supported the presidential campaign of Hunter Biden's dad.

Breaking with Miami’s deeply Republican Cuban-American community, Montaner publicly backed Joe Biden’s first presidential campaign. In a column last year, he said former President Donald Trump didn’t “give a damn” about telling the truth.

If anyone doesn't “give a damn” about "telling the truth", CAM (in case you can read this), it's the left, from the current occupant of the White House to the culture via the MSM and the Department of Education (not to mention the installation of a one-party state in the USA). I'm curious to know what was Humberto Fontava's take on that (lack of?) policy.

Like most Cubans, Montaner initially welcomed Castro’s 1959 triumph. But he soon rejected Castro’s excesses and the new government’s Communist lurch. Arrested for his clandestine anti-Castro activities, Montaner was just 17 years old when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1960. But he escaped and made his way to the Honduran Embassy in Havana where he was granted asylum. In 1961, he was allowed to leave for the U.S. 

After studying literature at the University of Miami in the U.S. and teaching at a Puerto Rican university, Montaner moved to Madrid, where he started a publishing house, Editorial Playor. He lived much of his life between Miami and Madrid where he witnessed Spain’s transition to democracy after Francisco Franco, hoping it could serve as a model for Cuba.

In the hothouse world of Cuban exile society and politics, known for its sometimes violent rhetoric and extreme views loudly expressed, Montaner stood out for the equanimity of his voice and for his trenchant analysis. 

“Carlos Alberto created a space to analyze and discuss Cuba in a rational and calm manner,” said Pedro Freyre, a Miami-based lawyer active in Cuban affairs. “He was an example of moderation, intelligence and cordiality.” 

He was feared by the Castro regime as perhaps its most dangerous intellectual adversary.

Actualización: Gracias por el Instalink, Señor Driscoll

In the New York Times (surprisingly enough), one  gives more details about Montaner's 1996 book.

One of his best-known books is “Manual del Perfecto Idiota Latinoamericano,” which he wrote in 1996 with Alvaro Vargas Llosa (the eldest son of Mario Vargas Llosa) and Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza. It was published in English in 2000 as “Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot.”

“The perfect idiot,” the trio wrote, “leaves us in third world poverty and backwardness with his vast catalog of dogmas presented as truths.”

The cover of one of the book “Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot,” with mostly black writing on a yellow background but with the word “idiot” written in red in a style resembling graffiti.