Pulling wings off of flies…

I see that mid-term campaigning is in full-swing south of the border, and George Bush, in an effort to reduce complicated issues to simple two-tone signals, has picked up on the old saw that the Democrats “cut and run obstructionists” for pointing out that staying in Iraq killing and dying is somehow, um, unproductive? George is really almost pitiable in his, well, stupidity – there, I’ve said it. He somehow hasn’t figured out that the purpose of an opposition party is to disagree with the party in power in the hope that the act of putting ideas against one another will provide a more acceptable policy than either party on their own would create. No, for George “debate” is simply criticism, and well, criticism is not productive:

Five years after 9-11, Democrats offer nothing but criticism, and obstruction and endless second guessing

Lets hope the Democrats can put together some kind of real oppostion during the next two years and do something in ’08 to turn the sinking ship around. The popularity of Hilary Clinton in the DLC doesn’t leave me with much hope, though…


A Rose By Any Other Name

In an effort to make up for my slack-blogging ways, I present the following:

Iva Toguri D’Aquino died Tuesday in Chicago at the age of 90. So what, you say?

She called herself ‘Ann’ or ‘Orphan Ann’, but Mrs. D’Aquino was better known as one of the incarnations of ‘Tokyo Rose’, the Japanese radio announcer during WWII who broadcast messages intended to demoralize American troops in the Pacific, primarily related to the unfaithfulness of spouses and the like. ‘Tokyo Rose’, although having a negative reputation, was actually looked upon as a humorous figure by the troops, and was actually (quite sarcastically) given an award by the U.S. military for her entertainment value.

She was the only such Japanese announcer who was an American citizen, and one of approximately 30 individuals convicted of treason in the history of the United States at the time of her 1948 conviction. Interestingly, one of the others was known as ‘Axis Sally’, who performed the same ‘service’ on behalf of Nazi Germany. Mrs. D’Aquino served 6 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence, and resumed her life in Chicago, operating a gift shop.

The downside to having read this in the Times is that now I have that stupid song from the ’80s stuck in my head. I may have to kill myself – yet another victim of Japanese propaganda, 60 years after the fact.

Another figure that comes to mind was a male announcer, known to the British as ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, who also broadcast propaganda for the Nazis.

Reading the initial article, I was somehow struck that, despite our knowing the name ‘Tokyo Rose’, and her depiction through radio broadcasts in films set in that time period, we don’t give much thought to those in the broadcast industry who were engaged in blatant propaganda-mongering. Or those that are. Tokyo Rose is alive and well, only now she’s ‘Washington Anne’.

Like the American troops in the Pacific, I am told daily how much danger I am in, and I am bombarded by foreign broadcasts that twist truth and exploit psychological weaknesses in populations that are vulnerable and kept at a heightened state of fearfulness. So, the enemy seduces the weak and impressionable over to their side, where beer makes men more virile and women more beautiful, where eating a meat-like substance on a stale bun is the height of patriotism, and where ‘Under God’ is starting to refer just to his thumb.

Democracy grows and thrives on debate and the free exchange of ideas, yet academics whose views are unpalatable may soon find themselves at risk of losing tenure, or worse. I started this rant with no particular goal in mind, but as I wote (as sometimes happens), an idea finally crystallized. The history books were wrong on one very important point. Sure, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy were the nominal losers of the war, the defeated Axis powers immortalized in song and story. Those countries, as diabolical and frankly inhuman as they were, did lose.

But if you look closely at the patterns, the interplay, the forms of ‘Democracy’ that have taken hold, it’s easy to see:

The Fascists didn’t lose the war, they won. Now, they’re just consolidating.



Back and out of the loop…

Hey guys.

I just returned from my occupation-induced exile and I promise that the blog will become active just as soon as I’m up-to-date on current events. I see that Dan, Flash, and Bri did not in fact pick up the slack during my absence so I do apologize.

I would love to post something deep and meaningful or light and funny or indeed something even remotely interesting, but as I said I am completely and utterly out of the loop, so if I am ever capable of writing anything useful, this is not the time. Going out on a ship far enough from shore that there is no radio or television and only infrequent emails and sat-phone calls home will do that. In many ways it is like being AFK, but more. More like Absent From Life, regular life, anyway. I highly recommend it for everyone. It is spiritually refreshing, but hell on the blog.

Question for the crowd – Is it possible to be a spiritual atheist? I might have thought that to be an oxymoron, but I don’t think I do anymore.

Anyway, kevout for now, but I’ll see you around the blogosphere as I go around asking dumb questions like why exactly does the Pope want to join W and begin a crusade?