Thursday, December 5, 2013

Beck’s Folly





I get mail.

The single most common complaint that I get on Stonekettle Station is that I go on, and on, that my essays are too long and involved and that I explain things in too much detail.

That is to say: my critics complain that I tend to beat dead horses into glue.

With that in mind, and because I’m short on time to write lately, I endeavored to keep this particular post as brief as possible, focused on the central theme that Glenn Beck and those who follow him, and specifically the Tea Party, are hypocritical self-centered dimwits with a conveniently limited and malleable sense of history and society.

I deliberately avoided detours into extended digression and long explanations, figuring that a) most of my regular readers are smart educated folks who would know what I was talking about, or b) they’d go look it up, or c) another commenter would explain things in detail and we’d end up with the usual adult conversation of differing views and we’d all learn something.  The observations from regular commenters here and the associated Facebook discussion leads me to believe that was a reasonably correct assumption.

The problem comes from those who either a) aren’t regular readers and are used to being spoon-fed their beliefs by the likes of talk radio pundits and Fox News, b) lurkers who spend a lot of time hanging out on the IMDB and 4-Chan comment channels where they’ve come to the erroneous conclusion that the only way to comment on a topic you disagree with (or think you disagree with) is by acting like a nasty 14-year old with the manners of a donkey, or c) they’re just obnoxious obsessive jackasses who can’t see anything but their own pet bugaboo even if you grab them by the back of the neck and rub their noses in their own feces. 

I’m getting mail on this post.

I’m getting comments on this post, comments from folks who are obviously not regulars.

I can see that keeping it short was a mistake, one that I won’t make in the future – and one that I’m about to correct here.

A number of folks have fastened onto one minor observation and sidetracked into their own outraged obsession. As a result, they have completely missed the point of this post – and, in fact, could not possibly miss the point any harder even if Glenn Beck was beaming his show directly into their fuzzy noggins via John Galt’s magic magnet machine.

The really ironic part is that they are about evenly divided between barking Uber Liberals and howling mad Tea Party Conservatives.

Like a neurotic dog they chase manically ‘round and ‘round after their own tails barking furiously at imaginary monsters.

They have managed to construct for themselves a strawman and they are now attempting to derail my blog onto their own cause, a front in a war that ended more than 70 years ago and a minor unimportant battle in which nearly everybody involved is long dead.

That’s not going to happen.

Comments are in full moderation and will remain so.

It’s not my job, expressed or implied, to entertain mental illness and fanaticism or to provide either with a platform.

If you’re afflicted with obsessive compulsive mad cow disease, then you deal it on your own time, it’s your problem, I won’t let you make it mine. You engage in assholery, big or small, your comments will not post. Period. This is non-negotiable.

Don’t like how I do business here? Then as I noted below, you’re completely free to fuck off back to whatever part of the internet you came from.  Don’t bother to email me, because I won’t read it – and if by chance I do, I’ll likely use your chattering assholery as fodder in another blog post devoted to the ridicule of hatemail. Don’t bother trying for the last word, because you’re not going to get it.  Stonekettle Station is my intellectual property. Mine. I get the last word. I’m not particularly pissy about that – unless you make it into a shoving match. If you do, you’ll lose. Period. I spent more than 20 years in the military and fought in two wars; I’ve been hated by professionals and you’re not the first jackass to show up here. Frankly I couldn’t possibly care less about your contempt. Really.

If you’ve got a beef with something I wrote, then express your disagreement in a reasoned adult manner, otherwise go away. Those are your only two options.


Marked updates to the text below now include a detailed explanation of exactly what I meant by my comments.




My teenaged son stuck his head into the den.

“You’re missing it,” he informed me.

“Missing what?” I asked.

“Glenn Beck’s on Hannity,” he grinned, rolling his eyes and laughing in sardonic mirth.

Yes, my son watches Sean Hannity.

And Bill O’Reilly. And Glenn Beck.

He thinks they’re endlessly, ridiculously, amusing; but then again what 17 year old isn’t captivated by the self-mutilating shenanigans of capering idiots? Why do you think MTV’s Jackass is so popular? Or those Fail videos on YouTube? Same thing. Given that, seems to me Rupert Murdoch is missing an opportunity.  After all, the Fox News network already has more brainless jiggling cleavage in their line-up than a rerun of Bay Watch, combined with the sophomoric antics of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, if Fox could work in a couple of Metallica videos they’d have the teenage male demographic sewn up.

But I digress.

It delights me that my son, a teenage high school senior, has absolutely no problem whatsoever picking apart the logical fallacies, outright falsehoods, and daily fabricated paranoid nonsense of TV pundits.

‘'Beck and Hannity, on Fox News, now there’s an incestuous bromance made in heaven,” I said.

“Oh, it’s even worse than usual,” my son grinned mischievously. “Glenn Beck wants to sell Alaska …”

All of the federal government land they own. What do they own it for? Sell it. Get rid of it. They don't need it anymore. It's time to sell things. It's time to go up to Alaska and drill in Alaska. And if they are not willing to build a pipeline and drill in Alaska, then it's time we sell it to somebody who will because we've got to pay off our debt.

They should build a pipeline and drill for oil.

In Alaska.

See? That, right there, that kind of dazzling logic is why Glenn Beck gets the big bucks. Drill for oil. In Alaska. You can see why the Tea Party loves this guy, he’s just so darned clever. Drill for oil. In Alaska. Wow.

Man, too bad we Alaskans never thought of that.

Drill for oil. In Alaska.

Now there’s an idea worthy of Beck’s pal, Sarah “Johnny Knoxville” Palin.

Beck left out a few details. 

For example he didn’t specifically say who “they” are.

They should build a pipeline.

They should drill for oil.

Because we have got to pay off our debt.

Wait. What?

Drill for oil in Alaska. Pay off the national debt.

Now hold on just a damned minute here.

Drill for oil in Alaska. Pay off the national debt. 

As an Alaskan, I have some questions.

First, I guess Beck means President Obama should be doing the drilling and building and selling and paying, right?  Both Hannity and Beck are self-declared “Tea Party Conservatives,” and according to the Tea Party the national debt is all Obama’s fault, so shouldn’t Obama be the one to pay it off? Isn’t that exactly what Glenn Beck is saying? Build a pipeline. Drill for oil. Pay off the debt. I get that part okay, but I’m just a little surprised to see a couple of Tea Party Conservatives on Fox News enthusiastically embracing communism

Communism. Sure. Communism.

That’s what they call it when the government owns the oil, the drilling rigs, the pipeline, and all the profits, isn’t it?

“They” should build a pipeline and “they” should drill for oil and “they” should use the money to pay off the national debt.

They would have to be the government in this scenario, wouldn’t they? By definition. Specifically President Obama.

So, communism. That’s what Glenn Beck is demanding. Communism.

Or some kind of absolutism anyway, maybe a dictatorship if Obama himself owns it all.

I mean, that’s what we’re talking about, right. Drill for oil in Alaska. Pay off the national debt. The only way that works is if the government owns the oil and the means of production and sale, and the government reaps the profits which they then use to pay off the debt.

Otherwise Beck would be suggesting that private industry invest in drilling and merchandising the oil.  Which, of course, is pretty much exactly how we do it now.

You’d think Palin would have mentioned that, given her extensive oil industry experience and all.

What? I’m just saying it’s a weird oversight. Honestly, it makes you wonder, what do they talk about?

Here’s the thing: if the oil is produced and sold by industry, then only way you get from corporate profits to paying off the debt is … taxation.

And yet, we know that Glenn Beck is loudly, vocally, voraciously, inflexibly, ideologically, opposed to government taxation on such enterprises. He’s screamed and ranted and waxed fat and fecund about taxation for years. Hell, he even threaten to go off and start his own walled country to protest taxation. Like minded conservatives in congress, including Alaskan Democrat Mark Begich, have fought tooth and nail to reduce federal regulation and taxation on the poor belabored oil industry (what with their record profits and all it’s hard to understand how Exxon can stay in business with just billions in oil subsides alone). And it’s the same here at the state level, in fact, Alaskan conservatives, most of whom are dewy-eyed Glenn Beck fans, led by Alaska’s governor and Palin successor, Sean Parnell, just gave the entire oil industry in Alaska a huge tax giveaway (and just this morning Alaska woke up to the sudden realization that the Alaska Permanent Fund and next year’s state budget are facing massive reductions as a result. Whoops. But, hey, it’s not like Alaska needs schools.  When the oil industry “creates” jobs here, they fill ‘em with wildcatters from Texas and Oklahoma anyway, right?). 

However you slice it, obviously Beck’s not talking about paying off the debt via taxation on the oil industry.

And if the government isn’t drilling and selling, and the government isn’t taxing those who are, then the government isn’t doing the paying, is it?

So what is Glenn Beck suggesting? That the oil companies use their immense profits to pay off the national debt directly? I’m not exactly sure what kind of magic Ayn Rand government that’s called. It’s not communism. It sure isn’t capitalism. It’s not republicanism. Ridiculous Blustering Glenn Beck Bullshitism maybe?

Okay, scratch that.

So then according to Beck, what’s left?

I guess “we” should sell off Alaska to pay “our” debt.

And how exactly we Alaskans, the paltry few five hundred thousand of us, ended up being responsible for the entire national debt given that there are three hundred and fifty million of you, just completely escapes me.  That seems, oh hell, I dunno, just a little suspect, mathematically. If Alaska is suddenly responsible for $17 trillion, seventeen trillion dollars, seventeen trillion, seriously, folks, where the hell did all that money go?  We didn’t get it, trust me on that. Oh sure Wasilla got a new rec center, and they made some improvements to the Ted Stevens International Airport, but seventeen trillion? C’mon, not even Don Young could spend all of that and it’s not like Alaska declared war on Iraq and Afghanistan all by itself.

I’ll tell you, speaking as an Alaskan, for seventeen trillion dollars our lousy potholed roads should be in one hell of a lot better shape.

Seventeen trillion dollars.

And Alaska is responsible for it all?

Why us? Why not all those poverty stricken southern Bible Belt States that produce nothing but trailer parks and toothless rednecked Glenn Beck fans? Why not Texas? Hell, they want to secede, let’s sell ‘em to Mexico!


Oh, riiiiiiight, nobody would pay $17 trillion for Texas.

So, I guess it’s on us then.

How does this work exactly? Palin tried to sell the governor’s jet on eBay, can we put the whole state up for bid there?  Can they just list us on Craigslist? Is selling off Alaska even constitutional – I mean, you know how the Tea Party loves them some Constitution and all.  Honestly, I don’t get how this works, but then again my education is mostly engineering and technology and military strategy (you know, reality based), maybe I should have studied Magic Fairy Dust and Creation Science math at Glenn Beck University.

“We’ve” got to pay off “our” debt, folks, so “we” should sell Alaska.

Note how Alaskans aren’t part of the we

When you’re talking about the United States, there’s “we” and then there’s Alaska.

No, no, that’s okay. We’re used to it.

So. Sell Alaska. For money. To pay off the national debt. That’s the plan.

This from the guy who’s bombastically enraged and righteously outraged at the mere thought of his precious Israel trading a couple hectares of worthless sand for their security.

But Alaska? Well, if we’re not using it the way the Tea Party thinks we should, screw it. Get rid of it.

Boy, spoken like a genuine Wall Street MBA. 

Sorry, Alaskans, the folks down here in real America have two wars and our bad mortgage industry investments to pay off. So looks like we’re going to have to downsize. Liquidate. Got to keep the shareholders happy. Got to keep the ol’ Golden Parachute fully inflated. Return on investment, you know how it is, nothing personal. So, anyway, you guys are now officially Chinese.

I note that laying a $17 trillion dead horse on Alaska hasn’t done much to diminish Glenn Beck’s popularity here in Tea Party Central.

That’s about par for the course, Alaskan conservative logic-wise. 

They’ll all be lining up to buy a copy of his new book, Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America (I swear, that’s the actual title, the true story of ‘Merica!) wherein Beck (who’s now a “student of history” according to Sean Hannity) trots out the Dirty Sanchez of Second Amendment porn, the 1945 so-called Battle of Athens


[Update: “The Battle of Athens”]

The so-called “Battle of Athens” is a common anecdote proffered by gun-nuts and Second Amendment fanatics to justify their version of America where the citizens are locked in a perpetual armed standoff with their government and where liberty comes from the muzzle of a gun and not from rule of law.

The pitiful “battle,” such as it was, happened in 1946, in McMinn County, Tennessee.

There had been rumors and accusations of election fraud in McMinn for years. The federal Department of Justice made a number of investigations into the allegations both before and during World War II, but the inquiries were inconclusive and the federal and state governments had, as yet, taken no action.

The point of contention was the county sheriff, a democrat named Paul Cantrell who had been elected to the position in 1936 and served for six years until he was elected to the Tennessee state senate in 1942. He was replaced by his former deputy, Pat Mansfield.  Now, the partisan divide wasn’t quite as wide or as hostile as it is now, but nevertheless a lot of folks in the predominately republican county felt the election was rigged – specifically due to recent redistricting and a reduction in elected positions (that is, the size of the local government got smaller, and a lot of people ended up feeling like they weren’t getting proper representation. The more things change, right?).

The real problem was that the county sheriff and his deputies were paid via an old fashioned system, a system that was inevitably prone to abuse and corruption. The police were paid per arrest. In other words, the more people they arrested the more money they made, individually. Unless you’re a complete idiot, you can see where that kind of thing leads and it wasn’t long before the sheriff and his deputies went from rousting the usual suspect to actually staking out the highways and stopping Greyhound buses, pulling out the passengers and ticketing them on a variety of bogus charges. Needless to say, ethnic minorities and the poor spent a lot of time in the McMinn County courthouse.

You can imagine the increasing aggravation of the populace and the nature of the complaints, but there was a war on and most of the people who had the wherewithal and means to stand up to the police were fighting their way across Europe or storming the beaches of the South Pacific. And there wasn’t much time or attention available in the federal government for an overbearing police force in some unimportant county in the middle of the country.

All that changed with the end of the war.

In 1945 and 46, several thousand combat veterans returned home to McMinn and weren’t happy with what they found – most especially because they suddenly became the single most lucrative source of income for the County Sheriff.

The veterans had no intention of being pushed around and they resolved to change things. 

In the August 1946 election Cantrell and Mansfield swapped positions, Cantrell ran again for sheriff and Mansfield for state senate.

The veterans, about ten percent of the McMinn population, tendered their own candidates.

When polls opened on August 1, 1946, voters found themselves facing hundreds of armed deputies, cronies of Mansfield and Cantrell, brought in from neighboring towns and counties to augment McMinn’s fifteen permanent officers.

Men who had fought the Nazis and the Japanese were outraged by this blatant act of raw intimidation. Fights broke out. And a black man, Tom Gillespie, was shot in the back by deputies who were attempting to stop him from voting.

As the polls closed, the deputies seized the ballot boxes and took them back to the county police office.  They locked the boxes in the jail and fifty-five deputies stood guard over them.  Exactly what their intentions were is unclear. Supposedly it was to guard the ballots until they could be counted. Maybe that’s true. Likely it’s not. 

The population, already enraged, had had enough.

A number of veterans assembled, the exact number is unknown – some accounts say it was a few hundred, others claim it was a few thousand. The vets were armed, some with personal weapons, some with heavy weapons taken from the national guard armory.  They marched on the jail and demanded that the sheriff turn over the ballot box.

Predictably the soon to be ex-sheriff refused.

So the veterans opened fire. 

The deputies fired back.

The “battle” consists of exchanges of intermittent gunfire and lasted somewhere between a few minutes to a couple of hours depending on who’s telling the story. There were no casualties, but elsewhere in the town of Athens, other vets, who might or might not have been drinking, rioted. Police cars were burned. Windows were smashed. Mobs formed. Eventually the vets, being vets, got sick of screwing around and dynamited the jail.  They blew the building’s door off and poured in through the breach just like the good old days when they were storming enemy bunkers. The sheriff and his deputies, now shaken and deafened and injured from the blast, surrendered in short order.

The ballot boxes were recovered intact and when they were counted the next day, the county had themselves a new sheriff (history doesn’t speculate on what would have happened if the vote had gone the other way).

After it was all over, a lot of folks ended up feeling rather chagrinned.

The new county government revised the compensation method for police officers, installed salary caps on public officials, cleaned up the corruption, and set about getting rid of the former deputies via dismissal.  The deputy who shot Tom Gillespie was tried and went to jail.

Now, you can see why the Second Amendment Fetishists love this story.

Except, of course, that part about how the only guy who got shot was an innocent black man who was just trying to vote.

And the only gunfire exchanged was ineffective and accomplished nothing but to terrorize an already frightened town.

And the jail was actually breeched with dynamite (which makes you wonder if we’re going to see the NRA demanding unrestricted access to explosives next).

And, most especially, that similar and far, far more egregious abuses of power have been stopped, overturned, prevented, and corrected numerous times without gunfire and revolution and dynamite … by the very thing Glenn Beck hates, a strong federal government.  In fact, based on history, something Beck claims to be a student of, when it comes to civil rights you’d be a hell of a lot better served putting your faith in the Justice Department and the Supreme Court than in your pistol. 

The amusing part is that within five years, the very veterans who staged their little armed rebellion were complaining that their own installed candidates were just as bad and they’d merely swapped one tyrant for another.

Beck fails to mention one of his personal heroes, the nation’s most abusive and out of control lawman, Joe Arpaio, five time sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.  And I’m left wondering how Beck would feel if the aggrieved citizenry took up arms and removed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” from office by force. That’s different, of course, Arpaio is a conservative who primarily targets Latinos. But I digress. Again.

Most ironically, Beck failed to mention how his own political organization, the goddamned Tea Party, is openly engaged in an active campaign to disenfranchise voters via unfair voter ID laws, gerrymandering their candidates into “safe” districts, closing primaries, and massive amounts of anonymous campaign money funneled through Beck’s own SuperPAC.

In the Battle of Athens, Glenn Beck and the Tea Party aren’t Tom Gillespie and the veterans, they’re Paul Cantrell and his deputies and make no mistake about it.


My favorite part of Beck’s new book? Yeah, that would be where he declares Tokyo Rose a hero.


Yes, that Tokyo Rose. 

Beck says she’s a genuine hero. You betcha.

Apparently, according to the interview, Beck owns her microphone, the one she used to broadcast Japanese propaganda at American military men during World War II. Because, quoting Glenn Beck here, Tokyo Rose “was a hero, not a villain.”

I know. Oh, believe me, I know

Obama puts his little American flag pin on crooked and Glenn Beck holds a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry Obama’s treason. But Tokyo Rose, she’s a hero according to Glenn Beck.

Yep. And that, right there, tells you everything you need to know.

On the other hand, if we Alaskans have to become part of China in order to pay off the national debt, then the very least all those old geezers who battled their way across the Pacific to earn themselves a place in the Greatest Generation of Glen Beck fans can do is acknowledge the heroic patriotism of poor misunderstood Tokyo Rose.

Frankly, at this point, I can’t wait to see what Glenn Beck does with Hanoi Jane.


[Update: Tokyo Rose]

…and that, right there, tells you everything you need to know.

Except, of course, for a number of folks, it didn’t.

I suppose this is my fault. I assumed, for no good reason, that everybody else is as fascinated and horrified and familiar with World War II as I am.

Tokyo Rose was the name given to an Imperial Japanese radio program, broadcast during World War II in the Western and South Pacific theaters, and aimed at Allied forces. 

The broadcast consisted of English speaking women who read scripted programs alternating with popular American and British music.

It was an early application of Information Warfare, specifically a combination of both crude psychological manipulation and a form of what nowadays is sometimes referred to as information insertion

The basic idea was that a sympathetic sounding female voice, speaking English, alternating with familiar music would degrade Allied morale and esprit de corps by working on the minds of lonely weary men far from home by making them homesick, by making them question their commitment, by making them wonder why they were risking their lives in a war that supposedly didn’t really concern them. 

The Tokyo Rose broadcasts played up those ideas by suggesting to Allied forces that their sweethearts back home had probably forgotten them, that their wives were probably fooling around, that their children no longer remembered their faces and were calling somebody else daddy, that there was nobody to help poor old mom on the farm, and so on.

And these were things that many of those men really did worry about.

Allied troops grew to hate Tokyo Rose with a passion that bordered on the kind you reserve for child molesters and people who drive too slow in the fast lane, and legends grew up around her.

It’s hard nowadays to understand just how isolated many of those men were, and for just how long. 

Most people, even nowadays, have little grasp of the staggering vastness of the Pacific and the immense distances these men fought across. I have sailed across that ocean myself, from the Bering Sea to the South Pacific atolls, from Sumatra to San Diego, from the Galapagos to Guam, from Hawaii to the Straits of Malacca, and even I can barely comprehend it.  Back then, it was even more remote and many of those men didn’t have the benefit of our worldwide consciousness. Most had never even heard of the places they were sent to. Prior to the war many hadn’t travelled more than a few dozen miles from the places they were born. Communications were extremely limited, both by the state of the art and by operational security. There was no internet, no TV, no telephone. There was almost no mass media. News came on movie reels, and on paper, physically transported on ships across the ocean, from base to base, months old. Letters arrived the same way, again often months out of date as the mail chased ships and mobile units from one battle to the next, and those communications were subject to censor and editing and contained only the barest of information. Death and danger, terror and loneliness, were ever present for years at a time.

That voice, Tokyo Rose, men hated it, but they couldn’t stop listening.

Tokyo Rose herself wasn’t just one person. 

Tokyo Rose was more than a dozen women over the course of the war.

But the woman who grew to be most associated with the hated broadcast was Iva Toguri.

An American.

Toguri was the daughter of Japanese immigrants. She was raised primarily in Southern California, but had gone to grammar school in Mexico. Prior to the outbreak of World War II she graduated from the University of California with a degree in zoology. 

In July of 1941, five months before the Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor and the sudden outbreak of World War II, Toguri traveled to Japan. She was issued a Certificate of Identification, but not a passport, which indicated that she didn’t plan to come back right away – supposedly because she intended to stay in Japan and study medicine.

However two months later, in September, amid worsening relations between the US and Japan, Toguri applied to the US Vice Consul in Tokyo for a passport to return to the United States.

Toguri was still in Japan and the paperwork was still being processed on December 7th.

Toguri was alone and stranded in Tokyo, an enemy in a country at war with the United States.

Though Toguri was not rounded up and shipped off to an internment camp, as a Japanese American with dual citizenship she was pressured by the Japanese authorities to renounce her American citizenship. She refused to do so. She remained free in Tokyo, but unable to return to the US and barely able to survive.

Eventually she found work as a typist at a news agency, which eventually led to a similar job at Radio Tokyo.

By 1943 the Japanese military had forced a number of Allied POWs with radio experience into service making propaganda broadcasts aimed at their own countrymen.  The ethics of the POWs’ participation in enemy broadcasts is still something that is hotly debated in classes at military academies across the United States and England.  It’s easy to say that you, as a member of your country’s military would never do such a thing when you’re sitting safe and secure in a college classroom, it’s something else entirely when you’re facing the reality of Japanese concentration camps (or Korean or Vietnamese), starvation and torture, and you maybe have a chance to change the lot of your comrades interred within those places. 

Toguri was recruited from the typing pool by the head of the POW propaganda arm of Radio Tokyo, one Major Cousens – an Australian captured in the fall of Singapore – on the advice of American Army Captain Wallace Ince and Philippine Army Lieutenant Normando Reyes.  Ince and Reyes had met Toguri when she had risked her own relative freedom to smuggle food into an interment camp where they were being held (both were later scooped up based on their experience in radio and, like, Cousens, tortured until they agreed to make propaganda broadcasts).  Toguri at first resisted, saying that she would not speak against the United States. But Cousens and Ince convinced her that she could make the broadcasts without directly denouncing her country and eventually she made more than three hundred broadcasts on a show called The Zero Hour.

Officially she called herself “Orphan Ann,” but inevitably she became the voice of Tokyo Rose.

And she was all the more reviled when Allied troops learned she was an American.

Toguri survived the war.

She might have been forgotten after the nukes fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after Tokyo surrendered, and the world, weary from half a decade of total war, returned gratefully to those aforementioned sweethearts back home.

She might have been forgotten, if not for the press.

Broke and desperate, she agreed to tell her story to Cosmopolitan Magazine for the astounding sum of $2000.

Instead, the reporters betrayed her in a bid for sensationalism and she was arrested as a traitor and a war criminal in Yokohama on September 5th, 1945.  The Cosmopolitan reneged on their deal, kept the money, and played up her interview as a “confession.” They sold a lot of copy and made a lot of money as a result.

Toguri was interrogated for a year. Her former POW friends testified on her behalf. Records and transcripts of her shows, those that remained in the ashes of Tokyo, were examined in exhaustive detail. Eventually, General Douglas MacArthur’s staff determined that she was mostly a victim of circumstance, an young American girl caught in enemy territory who had only done what she had to do in order to survive. She was released, supposedly free to return home.

But the press wasn’t through with her.

Pundit and prominent radio host, Walter Winchell, took up the fight against Toguri.  His audience, many of the men who’d listened to her during their time in the Pacific, were outraged at the idea of Tokyo Rose returning to the US unpunished. Urged on by Winchell and other media personalities, they wanted their pound of flesh.

Toguri was rearrested by US military authorities and returned to the United States in custody to be tried for treason.

Amid a media frenzy, on September 25th, 1948, in San Francisco, she was convicted on a single count of “giving aid and comfort” to the enemy in time of war, the classic definition of treason. At that time, her trial was the longest and most costly in US history – eclipsing even that of the spectacular Lindbergh Baby Trial before the war and those trials that were even then still going on in Nuremberg.  The court was biased from the start and the conclusion forgone despite the herculean efforts of her defense team – led by the Johnny Cochran of his day,  Wayne Mortimer Collins. She was fined $10,000 dollars, an extraordinary sum in those days, and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. 

Toguri went to prison for treason and was paroled after serving six years.

Winchell and other media personalities attempted once again to rile up public support, they demanded that Toguri be deported upon her parole, but by 1956 much of the hatred and hysteria of the war years had cooled.  Toguri rejoined her family, now living in Chicago where they’d moved after being released from the Gila River War Relocation Center, a Japanese American internment camp. Toguri quietly went to work at her father’s store in Lakeview and tried her best to disappear into the the dusty forgotten volumes of history.

One thing I didn’t mention. After the war, in the time before she returned to the United States, Toguri got married.  Her husband had been a Portuguese prisoner of war. Toguri became pregnant during  her time in detention but the baby died before she could return home. Her husband came the US to testify at her treason trial but was immediately arrested as a war criminal himself. He was deported and forced to return to Japan. As his ship prepared to depart Hawaii, FBI agents forced him to sign a document that would prevent him from ever attempting to return to the US.  Toguri never saw him again. They remained married until 1980, when Toguri granted him a divorce so that he could get on with his life.

In 1976, largely due to efforts by Chicago Tribune reporter Ron Yates, the true story of Iva Toguri and Tokyo Rose began to emerge, culminating a riveting story by Morley Safer on the popular news show, 60 Minutes. A year later, President Gerald Ford granted Toguri a full and unconditional pardon on his last day in office.  That pardon was supported by unanimous vote in both houses of the California State Legislature – though many WWII veterans of the Pacific campaigns would never, ever, forgive her.

With the presidential pardon, Toguri’s U.S. citizenship was restored.

Toguri died in 2006, still working in her family’s store on Belmont Avenue in Lakeview, a suburb of Chicago.

The vast majority of her customers had no idea that the tired sad old Asian lady behind the counter was the once infamous and reviled Tokyo Rose.

Now, it is certainly possible to paint Iva Toguri as a hero of sorts – depending on which side of the radio you happened to be on.  Her story is terrible and fascinating.  She was treated heinously throughout much of her life, by fate, by governments, by militaries, by the public, and most especially by the media

The great Japanese-American actor, writer, and director, George Takei – himself once a resident of American internment camps for Japanese Americans – has labored for years to bring Toguri’s story to the screen.  And frankly, if Takei’s studied view of Toguri is a sympathetic one, then I bow to his judgment.

I have no heat, one way or the other for Tokyo Rose. I don’t forgive her, because I never condemned her. It wasn’t my war. It wasn’t my time. 

I don’t know that I’d call her a hero per se, but she is unarguably a tragic figure.

This is not the point.

All of this, the story of Tokyo Rose, is not why I mentioned her in the context of an article on Glenn Beck’s staggering hypocrisy.

Or maybe, maybe, it is.

Toguri, daughter of immigrants, one step removed from our mortal enemies (of the time), student in a foreign country, willing (however reluctantly) employee of those bent to the utter destruction of the United States (the same folks who engaged in one of the worst and most heinous acts of war and terrorism in our history, a day of utter infamy), Tokyo Rose … Glenn Beck hails her as a hero.

Perhaps I even agree with his description.

And yet, and yet, in Beck’s twisted little world, while Iva Toguri is “not a villain but a hero,” those who wore the uniform and spent their lives serving this self-same America, people like me for instance, we are branded as traitors, commies, socialists (as Beck defines it), Nazis. Hell, Glenn Beck and his legion of haters have no use whatsoever for George Takei, an outspoken and unabashed liberal advocate for gay rights and for the rights of minorities and immigrants. But somehow, Glenn Beck can not only forgive Iva Toguri for her funny name, her ancestry, her foreign education, her fluid citizenship, her wartime role as Tokyo Rose, he elevates her to the status of hero … but the President of the United States, Barack Obama, is a Nazi, Hitler, right? Liberals are Nazis, enemies of America, lowest of the low, hated and despised and reviled by the likes of Glenn Beck and the very media punditry who similarly railroaded Iva Toguri into prison for their own profit and benefit.

That, right there, is my point.

That staggering, astounding, gargantuan hypocrisy of Glenn Beck and the mindless idiotic drooling lynch-mob of Tea Party “patriots” who hang upon his every twisted word beggars the imagination.  These people, some of whom are the very conservatives who once fought to have Toguri imprisoned are now willing to make her a hero, and yet they can’t seem to find it in their hearts to meet their own president halfway.

This is specifically why I mentioned “Hanoi Jane.” 

Periodically I follow a pickup truck on the highway here between Palmer and Anchorage. There are two bumper stickers on the back, “Hanoi Jane: We Will Never Forget!” and “TEA Party, Taxed Enough Already.”

Here’s my question, Jane Fonda, what she did in the closing days of the Vietnam War was (at best) misguided and (at worst) an act of treason. But Fonda didn’t do a ten-thousandth of what Iva Toguri did.  Fonda also visited POWs and carried messages home to their families. Fonda, like Toguri, was used. That revolting picture of her seated on a North Vietnamese Anti-Aircraft battery was staged deliberately and used to maximum effect by our enemies, men who knew exactly what they were doing. Fonda paid the price for it too, far less so than Toguri, but then so was her treason.

Look, I don’t have a hell of a lot of use for Jane Fonda.  I think her later actions and her statements about returning POWS and her denial that they were systematically tortured fully justifies the hatred and contempt most Vietnam veterans feel towards her.  Just as the hatred and contempt many WWII Vets felt toward Tokyo Rose.  But again, if you can forgive Tokyo Rose for her actions during time of war, when are Glenn Beck and the Tea Party veterans of Vietnam going to forgive Fonda and elevate her to hero status?

They won’t of course, Fonda is a liberal.

Just as they will never bend on their conviction that Barack Obama is Hitler reborn.

Glenn Beck can brush away Toguri’s birth, ethnicity, religion, education, and actions, but condemns the rest of us as Nazis, fucking Nazis, for far, far, far less.

Glenn hails Iva Torguri as a hero, but condemns Teddy Roosevelt as a progressive and un-American.

Glenn Beck hails the veterans of Athens as heroes for confronting their government, but reviles and condemns the veterans of the Occupy Movement as traitors and cowards and, well, Nazis.

Glenn Beck waxes fat and fecund and teary eyed-over states rights and self determination … and offers up Alaska to the highest bidder.

That, that right there, is the point of this essay.

Beck twists his worldview into whatever shape brings him the most fame and money, just as did those who pilloried Toguri and Fonda for their own profit.

And behind, following in the wake of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter and Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly and Michael Savage and Pat Robertson and all those other selfish twisted mercenary whores comes those who are so filled with hate and bile and fear that they can’t even see their own bullshit when their noses are rubbed in it.

If that’s not clear and unambiguous now, then you’re in the wrong place.


But, again, here I am digressing.


I’m telling you, all this Hannity episode lacked was some James Hetfield blaring from the speakers.

I was going to say it could have used some Pam Anderson running on the beach too…

…but it already had a couple of boobs.


  1. Tokyo Rose a hero?

    A hero?

    A HERO?

    Please, Jim, will you update with a short explanation of just how GB manages to come to that conclusion? Because I sure as hell am not going to expose myself directly to Teh Stoopid to find out, yet curiosity gnaws at me. Since you've already waded into the spew and emerged with as much sanity as when you entered it, I figure it's the least you can do for your devoted horde of minions.

    1. I'm with you, I didn't want to ask. Thanks.

    2. The corporations want to own America. You have to follow the buildup of the Koch Brothers' plans to dump our government of elected officials in favor of running the nation by corporations. Charles and David Koch co-created the Tea Party with Big Tobacco and recruited members online. They are the second wealthiest corporate holders in the world, each brother owning about $22 Billion free and clear. They are ready to turn this into a fascist-run nation under the pretense of becoming a "Christian" nation, and they have paid many, many politicians and even judges to work things through the current system in their favor. Thus the obstructionism by the Tea Party members of Congress/Senate, the shutdown, the setting of the people against one another being used as a distraction to keep the people from knowing what they're up to. The politicians who are being paid by the Kochs are already well established in all the red states. On the states level, they are responsible for the battle over women's rights, responsible for the anti LGBT slurs that are mouthed by their cohorts, the fake Christian evangelicals and scalping the SNAP program of billions over the next ten years. They are a fast moving bunch who plan to take over America in the very near future. Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan is the worse so far, and the Koch's proudest accomplishment because, they say, they want to use Michigan as the testing ground for their plans for the rest of the nation.
      The Koch Brothers have not been all that successful in keeping their agenda secret. Two Supreme Court Justices, Scaglia and Thomas, are guilty of attending fund-raising dinners held by the Kochs, along with Senator Paul Ryan and Senator Lee. This is against the rules for court justices and they are allegedly under investigation for this. We down here in the 48 are well informed about these evildoers and are protesting on social media and contacting our legislators about doing something about them. The Tea Party continues causing a lot of trouble (Senator Eric Cantor was named by them two hours before the shutdown, "America's First Dictator"). Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin are possibly the worse of all of the Tea Partiers.
      Public land in Michigan has already been sold to China. The Kochs plan on taking over Detroit's Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River, building mansions for the wealthy and making it a gated community. Rick Snyder took over Belle Isle last week, so their plan is moving rapidly along. The people of Michigan think it's going to be a State Park and will be upgraded. Governor Rick Snyder has already stated that the people of Michigan will still be able to vote, but he will be the one who decides who wins.
      We must start demanding that the Kochs and the Waltons (they're involved, too) are arrested for sedition and treason, we will be seeing 12-year-olds back in the work force, as the Governor LePage of Maine has already suggested for Maine only this week.
      As a Veteran of the U.S. Military, I am not willing to stand for the changes the Tea Party wants to make to this country. Constitution? To them it's a piece of garbage. I had a list of the number of Senators, both incumbents and juniors, who are being paid by the Koch Brothers to push through their agenda, but I can't find it right off hand.
      When former President G.W. speaks at a meeting of Jews for Jesus, insisting they need to get busy and convert more Jews so they can pray for the end times, you know there's a bit of crazy going on in this country.

    3. I believe that until the Kochs, Rupert Murdock, and the rest are brought up on charges of Sedition they will just keep on doing what they do until "the law tells me I can't", right?

    4. When the law tells them they can't, they'll just buy a new sheriff.


    5. Frenchie, this post is slightly off topic, but I have something to add to it. I think you're mistaken to characterize the Koch's as wanting to "turn this into a fascist run nation." Rather than "dump" our nation of elected officials, they co-opt them. The best description I've heard to describe this phenomenon is inverted fascism.

      Rather than the state invoking primacy in determining the efforts of the corporate players, we're seeing something new: Corporations are (and have been for a long time) gaining more and more power through electoral politics, in essence using political machinery to pursue their nefarious ends. It is just the opposite, or inversion, of capital F Fascism. At least technically.

      Corporatism describes it quite nicely, I think. The term fascism is so overused; we say it, they say it, neither side really understanding what it was. (It wasn't good! That's why it makes it so easy to use recklessly).

      Just sayin'.

  2. At the end of the first long real paragraph, you want "sewn up," not "sown up."

    1. Ooooh, let's make replies to this comment the nitpickers' convention! I've got one: In that same paragraph, it should be Rupert Murdoch, not Murdock.

    2. That's turning out to be a bad paragraph.

      Thanks, it's fixed.

    3. Bad paragraph! Bad!

      Smack it on the snout with a rolled-up newspaper, Jim (preferably not a Murdoch-empire one; that would be too cruel).

    4. Beggars not beggers, Unless it's beggers in Webster's, I use the Oxford English Dictionary and spell things differently.

      I know so little of this stuff I don't feel confident enough to comment on the essence of your writings. I know my stuff about English though, so I feel safe enough to contribute there, Atlantic differences notwithstanding,

    5. Well, as long as we're picking nits... Lakeview is a Chicago neighborhood, not a suburb. ;-)

  3. Perhaps we could sell Alaska back to the Russians. That should make the Neo-Confederates in the Tea Party happy. They want so badly to nullify the results of the Civil War. I'm sure they'll like this little tidbit.

    1. Then Sarah Palin wouldn't have to strain her eyes too hard to see Russia from her kitchen window, would she?

    2. On behalf of Canads I'd like to offer the Real America up to twice what she paid for Alaska. Three times as much if Jim Wright moves out of Alaska (sorry, but we're pretty sure he'll never learn to be obsequious enough to be a Canadian).

  4. One of the main characteristics of the Right Wing Noise Machine is that they can't do simple arithmetic and assume that the rest of us can't, either. (Sadly, they seem to be correct in this.) Want to eliminate the deficit? Cut foreign aid to everybody but Israel. If you need more cash, cut funding to PBS.

    It's fun to watch their heads explode when they realize that most North Slope oil goes to Japan ...

    1. Not sure about the oil going to Japan. I know it was against the law to ship it there in the past, don't know if the law has staledated or has been changed. And I'll admit, I don't know how to check it out. Someone here will, tho.

    2. Wait, I did find shttp://www.snopes.com/politics/gasoline/alaskaoil.aspomething.
      Under the act that authorized the pipeline in 1973, oil must have gone to US refineries.
      " Current ANS production is about 720,000 barrels per day, none of which (as far as we know) is exported outside the U.S. "

      Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/gasoline/alaskaoil.asp#PR6gFBUg2Z8M8Gz5.99

  5. I keep waiting for these gasbags to retire and tell the world they made it all up so they could get rich and they never believed a word of what they said.

    1. That will happen after the Apocalypse and the Second Coming.

    2. There's some evidence that Hannity knows he's just playing a role.

  6. "Otherwise Beck would be suggesting that private industry invest in drilling and merchandising the oil. Which, of course, is sort of exactly how we do it now."

    Is the current drilling on federal land, and do the companies pay the federal government for the right to drill? Because that's what it sounds like he's advocating, to me. And if it's how things already happen, then...well....yeah. Tea Party "logic".

    1. Drilling occurs on federal and state land . The Fed and state collect royalties, taxes, rents, blah, blah, blah from the private leaseholders already. The Fed passes on portions of the monies it collects to the state and Native peoples.
      The Fed owns approximately 60 % of land here and land is still in the process of being conveyed to the state and Native corporations. If and when conveyance is completed , over 12% will be in Native hands, less than 30 % in state hands and unlike most other states very little in private ownership- about 1%
      Alaska's own oil leases provide + 90% of general fund revenues currently.

      Mr Beck is dumber than a bag of rocks on this subject- starting with his assumption that there is no drilling/development already and moving on through his stupenagle
      notion that the State of Alaska could/should be sold for debts incurred by the federal government.
      The Unangan peoples of the western part of the Aleutian Archipelago paid the Fed for this damn state in their 75 years plus of involuntary servitude to the federal government in the seal trade leases which included them as serfs to the leasing companies.That did not stop with statehood- a very dark piece of underbelly in this so-called democratic country.
      Idiot wants to sell Alaska should come chat with the children of the Unangan .
      Or their closest neighbors- the Alutiiq- the people of my mother.
      We'll fix his lil red wagon.
      Alaska Pi

    2. Pi,
      I have read about the slavery imposed on the people of the Aleutians. There is very little written that I could find. This may be off topic, and I do apologize, but do you have suggestions for more reading? Also, Beck is dimber than a box of rocks on many topics.

    3. People of the Seal -This award-winning film explores the centuries-old connection between the northern fur seal and the Unangan natives of Alaska's Pribilof and Aleutian Islands in the middle of the Bering Sea. Aquilina Lestenkof traces five generations of her own family's history in this remote part of the world, weaving together native, Russian, and American cultural threads. At the heart of the story, are the fur seals. Like the Unangan, the fur seals are struggling to survive. As Aquilina says, 'if they're not here, then we won't be either.'

      "People of the Seal" has been recognized in the following ways:

      International Wildlife Film Festival
      -Special Jury Award
      -Best Cultural Message
      -Best Graphics

      Montana CINE International Film Festival
      -Best of Category, Non-Fiction

      34th American Indian Film Festival
      -Finalist, Best Documentary Feature

      2010 Silver Telly Awards in Nature/Wildlife, Government Relations, History/Biography, Education, and Cultural

      Offical Selections at
      -2009 Anchorage International Film Festival
      -2010 BLUE Ocean Film Festival
      -2010 Gray's Reef Ocean Film Festival


    4. Keeping in mind Mr Wright's essay grows out of the interview , I went and read the transcript. The stoopid sell-Alaska routine (national parks too! ) is a sidebar to Mr Beck tooting up his book Miracles and Massacres.
      He's usurped the history of the Shays Rebellion, the Wounded Knee Massacre, and My Lai, amongst others, there to forward his skewed Tea Cake anti-government horsepunky.

      I find the Wounded Knee dealie to be particularly offensive as the popular attitude of the time was that it was all okie-dokie. Westward expansion policies of the Fed were about supporting the everyday white folks who wanted land to pursue their notions of the American dream- folks like today's Tea Cakes , folks like Mr Beck and all his individual rights trump everyone else's claims crap.

      Contrary to Mr Beck's crap though, the story of that massacre was not hidden. Nor was it about failed-government-policies-like Benghazi. It was about an horrific failure to contain a moment on the part of specific people during a time when the outcome was just fine with too many people.

      It took a shift, a progressive shift, the progressive ideals Mr Beck loves to hate, to see it differently- to feel the shame and disgust we now feel for this horrible event.
      What happened to the Unangan can be laid at of the feet of the federal government but not in the way the Glenn Beck's of this country would want to.
      Whilst he prances on about the nasty gubbmint, he forgets the Congress which continued to authorize that shit was busy , even way back when, forwarding the idea that :
      "Pribilof colonialism reflected, in part, national colonialist attitudes to- wards Alaska. All the ingredients for colonial rule existed in the territory- the presence of actual and potentially valuable commercial resources; the ab- sence of local capital, certain necessary technology, and access to markets; and a small, unorganized labor force. Control of the territory became centralized in government agency-Congressional committee-private corporate al- liances built on their mutual self-interests. The Pribilof program not only mirrored this colonialist stance but assumed a much harsher form because of the remoteness of the islands and because the Pribilof people are a racial and cultural minority. In that era the general public considered Indians wholly uncivilized, as wards of the government not eligible for political, civil, and human rights. "
      The power he would love to attribute to a nasty ole gubmint out of touch with the people flowed from the people directly. Period.

      ( fishingmama- the link takes you to one of the most definitive and well documented histories of what happened to the Unangan)
      Alaska Pi

  7. Tokyo Rose is a hero to Beck?

    I am sitting here gaping my mouth like a just-caught trout. I need to step away from the computer and go into a darkened room and lie down with a cool cloth over my eyes.

    1. I now know about Iva Toguri, thanks to your question. Odd, but I'd never heard any of this before and that bothers me. I always appreciate learning something new and this one was excellent! Quite an eye-opener in fact. Nothing changes much in our military/legal system, does it?

      I still don't understand why Beck would consider "Tokyo Rose" a hero, however, and I'm speaking of the women who broadcast demoralizing comments over the air. But I doubt that even he can follow his convoluted thinking.

    2. He thinks she sabotaged the Japanese propaganda effort, and I can find some evidence in support of that, though I'm not sure of its validity.

      It seems Beck sometimes imagines himself as a heroic figure of resistance.

      Every now and again I get a shock in my understanding of the far right. In this case, the shock was something like, "OMG, he really believes it."

      And—until I just researched her, I believed the popular story of Tokyo Rose. That was another shock.

    3. See my response to Randolph below.

    4. I had heard of Iva Toguri abut 20 (or more) years ago. I remember that 60 Minutes did a story on her when she was seeking to be exonerated of the charges of treason.

  8. Over on this side of the Herring Pond we had William Joyce aka Lord Haw Haw. We hanged him as a traitor, he wasn't a hero.

    (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Joyce for info).

  9. The Tea Party short bus has a flat tire.

  10. I think we should sell the U.S. Capitol building. We're not using it anyway.

    On an unrelated note, have you ever wondered what kind of life form could be created by incubating Beck's tears in Boehner's tanning bed? Crap, now I'm going to have nightmares.

    1. Or co-mingling Beck's and Boehner's tears in the tanning bed. Eeeewwwwww!

    2. With this country's current attitude toward immigrants - I think we should scrap the statute of liberty and auction off the island. The money from this would go a long way toward paying off the debt.

  11. Now, wait a minute. All this who's "they" and who's "we" stuff? You're just trying to make Hannity and Beck sound silly!

    No, I'm not trying to make them sound silly. They are silly. I didn't have to do anything to make them sound silly. They did that for themselves.

    Well, it only sounds silly if you think about it. Don't think about it. You know what they're trying to say. Just accept that they said it. It sure sounds good. (head-desk)

    So much worthless, meaningless noise, and so many people who don't think about what was said, just accept that it must really mean something, because, you know, they said it!

    And the worthless, meaningless noise drowns out the conversations the rest of us need to have. How can you have meaningful conversations when you have to spend so much time pointing out how stupid the opposition is? Fact-checking their idiocy to people who don't care that it's idiocy, because it's the party line.

    I love your posts, Jim, but you're preaching to the choir. I wish we could get people who need to hear this stuff to actually read it. I try, believe me. But please don't stop. Because you put it here, at least I can point people to it.

    And I do love to read it myself.

    1. "but you're preaching to the choir. I wish we could get people who need to hear this stuff to actually read it."

      From your mouth to God's ears.

  12. Crap... I'm going to have to quit reading your blog now that Alaska is owned by the Chinese. Sorry.

  13. Another wonderful post Jim.
    I was struck at first by one inconsistency among the many with Tea Part purity. How can anyone advocate the act of selling Alaska or even just the mineral rights to Alaska by the federal government to repay the federal deficit how do you avoid conflicting with the unwavering Tea Party position that states rights trump everything?
    I then realize that my mistake was in assuming that there would be any logical consistency in anything coming from Glenn or Sean.
    I have to remember the number one rule when watching anything on Fox News...
    Don't think!.

  14. Beck could give the unprepared and unsuspecting an aneurism, couldn't he? Still, I'm waiting to see what a certain Quitter Gov has to say about selling off Alaska. Oh wait, she's de-camped to Arizona already. Ah well. Hang tough, Alaskans. Hopefully your next governor will be decent for a change.
    M from MD

    1. Every time I think about a politician, "well, this one can't be as bad as the last one" I'm proven wrong. When Palin quit and Parnell got the job, I thought that. I was wrong. Really WRONG. Hopefully the next one won't be as bad.

  15. Glen Beck is no more than a treasonous asshole. North Dakota has as much if not more than Alaska in crude oil. Should we sell our precious assets at the behest of Glenn Beck the national ASSHAT, or continue our way as a nation of the people.

  16. She's here? In Arizona? Oh, geez, now Palin's a snowbird....

  17. Even a broken clock is sometimes right, or at least not too wrong, it turns out.

    I looked up Tokyo Rose and found a WaPo obituary at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/27/AR2006092700133.html.

    By that account, there were about a dozen Tokyo Roses, but the one convicted of treason and stripped of her US citizenship, despite the doubts of MacArthur and Army Counterintelligence, was Iva Toguri D'Aquino. She was a second-generation Japanese-American born on the fourth of July who spoke no Japanese and was caught in Japan when the war was started. According to the WaPo obit, she worked to sabotage the Japanese propaganda effort. This may or may not be so but was does seem to be true is she was railroaded into a trial in which she was convicted of treason and stripped of her citizenship. She was pardoned and her citizenship restored by President Gerald Ford in 1977.

    If this account is accurate, she was not a traitor, but rather a victim of the Glen Beck and Tea Party of her day. Every time I am tempted to think of my country as "the shining city on the the hill," I run across something like this. The supply of saints and angels is limited, I guess.

    It's odd, though, that Beck would focus on her. I haven't read his book--I am not a masochist--but I wonder what he finds in her. I suppose he feels that he is as trapped as she was.

    1. Yes, Iva Toguri.

      I can see that I wasn't clear enough. I'll have to add an addendum to the post.

      Whatever the truth about Iva Toguri, one way or the other, she worked for the enemy during time of war, this is not in dispute by anybody. Tens of thousands of American troops were adversely affected by her propaganda broadcasts and yet Beck calls her a hero.

      But, and this my point, then you take a look at who Glenn Beck calls traitors and unamerican and Nazis, and why.

      Tokyo Rose gets a promoted to hero status in Glenn Beck Land, but those of us who actually fought for this goddamned country but don't adhere to Beck's twisted ideology, well, according to the Tea Party we're traitors.

    2. Thank you, Jim. Like others of your readers above, I too have learned that the "Tokyo Rose" story is far more complex than the cardboard-cutout version I learned in my distant youth; yet your point remains valid: "Tokyo Rose gets a promoted to hero status in Glenn Beck Land, but those of us who actually fought for this goddamned country but don't adhere to Beck's twisted ideology, well, according to the Tea Party we're traitors."

    3. My opinion of her isn't simple, but thanks for stereotyping me, Takashi. And you're completely missing my point.

    4. As I said, thanks for the stereotyping, you've got me all figured out.

      You've become a pest. You're entitled to your obsessive compulsive disorder, but you can take it elsewhere, I suggest The Blaze. You're done commenting here. Fuck off.

    5. "Tokyo Rose gets a promoted to hero status in Glenn Beck Land, but those of us who actually fought for this goddamned country but don't adhere to Beck's twisted ideology, well, according to the Tea Party we're traitors."

      Oh, I see. Yes, these people suspect everyone who disagrees with them or even everyone who they are uncomfortable with of treason, except for the few, like Toguri, they pick out as misunderstood heroes. I've been sick of it for years; it doesn't help that I'm one they would call "traitor," and my ancestors they regard as misunderstood heroes. So thank you for saying it here.

      It was a surprise for me to find that Beck idolizes Toguri. Beck apparently regards himself as a member of a heroic resistance. I wonder: is he typical of the Tea Party Republicans? But his ideology, and the ideology of the nationalists who demanded that Toguri be put on trial, are a handswidth apart, if that. Does Beck ever stop to think that, if he had been there, he would have been on the side of Winchell and the American Legion?

  18. Congratulations to you and your fellow Alaskans on joining the ranks of the "Unreal Americans." I live in a city; therefore, I'm a charter member - at least, according to your former half-term, halfwit Governor.

    The stupidity, it burns!

  19. It never ceases to amaze me how people with severe mental disorders are elevated to the status of celebrities and prophets. Their ability to profit from others gullibility seems to make them virtually untouchable. I guess its true, enough money and entertainment value and you can just about say or do anything in this country.

    1. Televangelists have been doing it for years. This is just another flavor of the same thing.

  20. Whatever you think of Tokyo Rose (traitor or poor unfortunate caught up in the war), the fact is that I can't figure out his basis for calling her a hero. I watched him on YouTube (no way I'm going to buy his book and support his nuttiness) and apparently he thinks that she deserved hero status because she tried to warn American troops.

    Now, I don't run in military or "spy" circles, but I'm not so naive that I think that the Japanese Military would be telling any American, even if she was a traitor, all of their operational plans. So exactly how does Mr. Beck think that anything she could have had to say was helpful to Americans? More of that sloppy Tea Party thinking?

    As for selling Alaska? Nice to know that Glenn Beck has such little regard for American soil and American peoples that he can decide to just sell them off like a used car....tell me again - how does that make Glenn Beck an American?

  21. Tokyo Rose, as I understand it, broadcast propaganda, lies and half-truths to Americans in order to demoralize them and possibly turn them against their own government.

    Now, what does Glenn Beck do?

    Of course she is a hero to him - hell, she is his business plan!


    1. Gold is down almost 25% this year, so it must be getting harder for Beck to promote it. He must be getting ready to promote gen-u-ine Alaskan gold mine land sales with an option to buy Reddi-Bilt(tm) Log Cabins for freedumb loving gen-u-ine patriots(tm). (Just down-slope from ExxonMobil's drilling rigs and pipeline, don't worry yer little head about that.) Get ready for (more) Tea Bagger neighbors, Jim.

  22. Drilling more in Alaska and building pipeline do:
    - NOT reduce the debt
    - NOT reduce gas price in the US
    - NOT help energy independence

    …because the oil BELONGS to the OIL COMPANIES who sell to the HIGHEST bidders, in the US or abroad. And since oil companies pay record minimum tax…


  23. I don't know Jim, I am really starting to fear for our nation...It seems there has been a multi-pronged attack on our Government/Nation...the "crazy talkers", beck, limbaugh, robertson...etc. are cover for a bigger deal going on in the dark recesses of think tanks...A little bit of paranoia goes a long way...Jim, you are retired military, you are tuned to detect danger, and to react...the last few days, with the revelations in the Guardian, and the past record of the "secret" meetings in which high level political and judicial attendees are in direct control of our governments policies...there might be a need to look past the glaring of the "captive and corrupt" media...sorry for straying from the subject at hand, but I, for the first time in 60 years of being an American, I am truly fearful for the prospects of our Democracy...

  24. Sorry Jim for being marginally off topic, but I started to read the Hannity transcript from the link that you provided. I only got a few lines in when I noticed that Sean greeted Glenn with a "Happy holidays". I reread it and sure as heck, there it was "Happy holidays". Not "Merry Christmas" but "Happy holidays". I guess the supposed attack on Christmas must have finally succeeded when Sean Hannity refuses a "Merry Christmas" in favor of a "Happy holidays"!!!

  25. Nick formerly from the O.C.December 6, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Is it possible that Beck thinks Tokyo Rose = Howard W Campbell Jr?

    (re: Vonnegut's Mother Night)

  26. I suspect that Beck's promotion of Toguri as a misunderstood hero has more to do with increasing the value of his memorabilia than correcting an injustice.
    I think that Sean Hannity wishing Glenn Beck Happy Holidays is the final sign of the End Times so we better buy a lot of gold. :P

  27. After reading the Wiki on her, there is some evidence of validity. Smuggling food into the POW camps? The Aussie's seemed to think that she did not do wrong at least.

  28. Something I've always found amusing about the crazy-end-times-survivalist-types: Why would they be at all interested in hoarding (or even keeping it around, for that matter) gold?

    I mean, there's not much that you can actually do with gold on a low-tech scale; you can't eat it, you can't burn it to cook food or keep yourself warm, you can't wear it or turn it into something that can be worn, and it's a terrible substance to make tools or weapons out of. Unless you plan to use it as raccoon bait, gold is going to be worthless in the event of the collapse of civilization precisely because any survivors will be more interested in trading with and for things that they can use to survive; things like ammunition, food, fuel, etc. On a low-tech scale, you can't even take advantage of gold's electricity-conducting properties unless you start making batteries out of moonshine jugs or something.

    So, the only conclusion I can come to is that the whole crazy-end-times-survivalist-types-who-buy-tons-of-gold-thing is the result of gold merchants scamming these people out of their money under the false pretense that gold doesn't lose its value.

    1. If the entirety of civilization in the whole world all collapsed at the same time, then yes, gold would be worthless. However, what is more likely to happen is that the U.S. collapses and gets sold off for its parts (Alaska to China, Georgia to England, Texas to Mexico, etc.). In which case there are still plenty of other places where civilization is still functioning that would value gold in trade for goods.

      My parents came from a place where the government collapsed when they were kids. As I understand it, my grandmother slowly bartered away most of her gold jewelry for food. It worked for them, they survived. And now there's a tradition where all the kids receive gifts of gold when they reach certain ages, just so everyone will have some on hand in case it happens again.

  29. Okay, so "they" sell Alaska to the Chinese or the Saudis (they're probably rich enough) or maybe even the Koch Brothers (they definitely can afford it). What I want to know is what happens to the Alaskans? Are they included in the deal? If so, are they slaves or citizens of the country of the new owners? Are they given eviction notices to get out of state? Are they still considered American citizens? And will the Lower 48 take them in as refugees or as immigrants?

    Has Beck addressed this problem? Inquiring minds want to know.

    And, by the way, will this interfere with your plans to become Ultimate Emperor of the Universe? We minions have a definite interest in this question.

    1. Another question: once they sell Alaska and there is STILL a debt, what will be the next State to be offered? Because why stop at Alaska if they are THAT serious about the debt…?


  30. Hell, who says you have to get sold to China, Jim? Look east. Canada might be a buyer; as a bonus, you'd be able to get to every other part of your home country by car without having to cross international boundaries. While we're at it, can we sell Georgia here back to England? It used to belong to them anyway. Yes, there is the uncomfortable matter of having to learn a whole new national anthem, and we'd have to learn to consume a lot more tea than is our current habit, but we'd at least get some healthcare.

    1. Well, the new anthem shouldn't be that difficult: we know the tune (My Country 'Tis of Thee)

  31. Jim, again your update on Tokyo Rose is brilliant and it is again an example of why I admire your writing so much. You somehow manage to see the "big picture" every time.

    People like me get lost in the details - when I look at a mountain, I see rocks and trees - when you look at a mountain, you see it in relation to other mountains. Don't get me wrong, I love details - my whole life has been about details and details are important too, but I'd love the ability to think farther than that.

    So....how did you learn to do that? How can we learn to do that?

  32. Jim,

    This was, as always, entertaining and very informative. What I really liked was this comment:
    "maybe I should have studied Magic Fairy Dust and Creation Science math at Glenn Beck University." I would have added and the "Sara Palin school of political science and getting the job done". Thanks for your time and energy in putting out your blog.

  33. Thanks for the expansions of the original essay, Jim. They illuminated your points superbly, taught me much I did not know and might well never have discovered even had I researched the topics, and did so, as always, in your inimitable and much appreciated style.

    Never, never hesitate to go on at whatever length you feel is necessary, or even just too damn much fun to truncate. My only complaint about your writing (other than the typos I enjoy nitpicking) is that we don't get enough of it.

    1. I second that. I always learn as well as being entertained by reading these. Thanks Jim Wright.

  34. As if the TP's would auction off a red state. That's pretty funny. It took a 7 count indictment just to defeat Ted Stevens. Sell the home state of Sarah Palin, a state that's voted for R presidential candidates since LBJ, even provided employment to thousands of displaced oilfield workers from Texas? Nah, they'd prefer to sell California or New York first.

    As for Glenn Beck's hypocrisy, he's in Texas now and Texans eat that stuff with every meal. That's why we Texans are immune to its effects, like taking dilute poison to build resistance. I'm surprised Rush and Ann haven't relocated here also. Of course here they'd just blend in.

  35. In regards to Hanoi Jane, I'm assuming that it is in reference to Jane Fonda.When I was in Viet Nam I used to listen to the propaganda radio on my short wave. The name we called the lady was Hanoi Hanna, Just wondering.

    1. Yes, I specifically meant Jane Fonda, the person that many Vets call "Hanoi Jane."

      Hanoi Hannah was, of course, Trịnh Thị Ngọ, a North Vietnamese radio personality. She was never an American, so comparison of Tokyo Rose to her particular broadcast would be a different animal.

      I used the Hanoi Jane (i.e. Jane Fonda) for a particular reason, as spelled out in detail at the end of the appended section marked [Update: Tokyo Rose]

      I can however, see where folks might suspect I've confused my references if they hadn't read the entire text.

  36. The text has been updated. Sheffield completely missed the point of the essay, then after being corrected instead of admitting his error he decided to act like a jackass. As such, Mr. Sheffield will no longer be commenting here.

  37. Thank you very much for the additional information about Tokyo Rose. I can see that I will want to do more indepth reading later, but what a great jumping off point!

  38. CWO Jim: Again I've been given an education in history that I never expected. When you become Commander of The Universe, I want to serve in your cabinet. The Hannity's and Beck's want everyone to believe that libruls are the Nazi's and Fascists when in fact what they espouse to the American public is in fact Fascism and Naziism. If anyone remembers, the Fascist and Nazi's are the ones that took away the freedom of the people to organize for their own benefit, yet when the 99 percent organized, they where Beck's enemy. Beck is a slave to corporate America. They're the ones paying his salary, same as the other right wing John Bircher's you find on FOX. They are payed off by the people we were warned against by Dwight Eisenhower, the military industrial complex. So they go ahead and blame a President of The United States who had nothing to do with starting two wars, or not funding them as George Bush did, and is trying to bring a budget under control with nothing to work with as a Congress. During WWII the tax rate for corporations was 90 percent. If we turned to that instead of cutting corporate tax, problem solved and we could keep Alaska. I try not to name-call these shock jocks but sometimes they need it. I have some good Republican friends that are getting their minds poisoned by the asshats. When they lose the next presidential election, maybe they'll wake up and turn Fox News off.

  39. One little niggle, Lakeview is a neighborhood in Chicago, not a suburb of Chicago.

  40. *SNORT* I have a conservative friend who told me, in all seriousness, that she listens to Beck "because he is fair and unbiased." Unfortunately, I have no idea how to get her to see his biases. Thought about sharing this on facebook, but realized she would likely skip past as I skip past claims that Obama ordered three nukes to be exploded over the good old USA. Keep up the good work, it helps me stay sane.
    Chandra in MO

  41. I don't watch Beck or Hannity, but I've heard Hannity on the radio. What they are advocating is selling more oil leases on federal land which provides revenue from the leases, taxes on oil company profits (tens of billions a year even with credits), income taxes, and more from gas taxes which don't change when gas prices drop and drivers drive more. Enough to pay off the nation debt? Silly.

    His assertion that Tokyo Rose is a hero is based on the idea that we had no business fighting a war in the Pacific, and she told the troops exactly that. Embargoes and blockades and arming the Chinese in an attempt to contain Japan had goaded them into a first strike at Pearl Harbor. Soldiers shouldn't have to leave their families to die on some forgotten island because of the hubris of the US government.

    From your retelling, it sounds like this wasn't her idea. She was forced into it. Jane Fonda, on the other hand, chose to visit the enemy of her own volition. Of course, the Vietnam War was stupendously more absurd than the one against Japan. Enjoyed your retelling of Tokyo Rose. Wasn't familiar with that story.

  42. I think Iva Toguri was a survivor. Not a hero, not a villain, but a young woman who found herself alone in a foreign country on the verge of war with her home country, and people from her country told her she could survive by going through the motions, but without actually helping the enemy. She believed them, and it certainly was a better alternative than a prison camp and the likelihood of being abused by her captors. She was 25 years old in 1941, and had been a student up to that point.

    As for Glen Beck, he was even fired by Fox. Does it get any lower than that?

  43. Do not tell her what to think. Ask her what she thinks. That way she will think. People like Mr Beck Depend not on stupidity but on intellectual laziness.

  44. Simeon, she and I do often share our thoughts with one another. She does think her positions through. She is however very committed to her church and allows their preaching to filter which sources she will give any credence to. Odd how we can agree thoroughly on many subjects, but absolutely disagree on the political issues of the day.
    Chandra in MO

  45. Thank you for "going on and on" and providing such an immaculate dissection of the ulta (fill in the blank) mindset.

  46. Addressing only the issue of long versus short essays, I recall the probably apocryphal story of the seasoned lawyer talking to the younger lawyer. The older fellow said he'd just filed a 20 page brief on some issue, and the younger guy asked why it went 20 pages, and the answer was "because I didn't have time to write a 10 page one."

    1. Gerry - Thas a fantastic quote. And so real. Respect - Tommy D

  47. When I started to read the updates to your latest missive, I had no idea that I was about to received such deep information on the subject of Tokyo Rose. It never seems to fail that the more I learn the more I realize how little I know. I thought I knew the story of Tokyo Rose, evidently I didn’t know crap. ;)

  48. Thanks for editing and fully explaining things. I agreed with your perspective in general from the start, but knowing the details explains more.

  49. I came...I read...(took a while).... I commented. Generally agree with you. Beck is a sensationalist...It would appear he really went off the deep end this time.

  50. The actual post was entertaining, but the updates were fascinating. I'm thinking you could structure this like a mind map and just go. Update the updates. Add to the addendums. You are obviously fascinated with this part of history yourself, and it makes it interesting to read.

  51. Same old, same old Jim! Great post!

  52. Rotten plumbs. Jim, your writing style is superb. For whatever reason, people who never would have picked up a book or a newspaper in the Long Ago Times before the World Wide Web, are just now discovering their illiteracy. Therefore, any piece of writing over the length of a soundbite is "too long." Well, Hats off to the Bull.

  53. I know this part of history very well. My Father served in the Marines in the Pacific theater and I developed a fascination with the history of that time because of the things he described to me. One of those things was listening to Tokyo Rose. He told me some took it seriously but most of the men just laughed and joked about it. It seems most of them realized bullshit propaganda when they heard it. I am going to guess Glenn Beck has much the same effect. Some take him seriously but most just laugh at his propaganda. I have to give Murdoch and company credit however for seemingly having mastered the art of propaganda from people who were actually Nazis,Fascists and Imperialists. They may have learned one thing from history after all.

  54. Reading all kinds of things about Tokyo Rose, I realized that Glenn Beck has yet to have an original idea. Apparently Iva Toguri was one of many Tokyo Roses, and although she spent about 6 years in jail, she was pardoned by President Ford because the evidence overwhelmingly proved she was not a willing participant in the broadcasts. The details can be found on the NPR site (a good place to go, especially if you cannot stomach Glenn Beck's site). I was comfortable with the facts presented by NPR whereas, when I even look at Glenn Beck's website, I feel compelled to wipe down my computer with Lysol...
    Here you go:

  55. Thanks for doing what you do, Mr. Wright. It's comforting to know that not everyone out there is a raving lunatic.

  56. ...where liberty comes from the muzzle of a gun and not from rule of law. Yes that rule of law our current administration follows. I wonder what rule of law that is? I guess it's that Obamacare style law that doesn't seem to work so well in reality, but it sure sounds good. Affordable Health Care Act. Has a nice ring to it. I'm forced to lose my health insurance at the end of 2014 according to ACA, and it will be replaced by a plan I can't afford. Yeah, that's the ticket--affordable is the new unaffordable.

    1. Thanks, Obama!

      Boy, you really had to work for that one, didn't you, Anonymous?

      Of all the things I said, that's the one you took exception to, huh? Rule of Law? Really?

      I hear Somalia is taking applications. And, hey, it's a Libertarian paradise. I've been there, trust me, nobody will make you buy healthcare, the government is really small, there's no taxes, and lots and lots of guns. It's perfect for you.

    2. You know if the Anon guy is going to claim all this harm why does he not provide some specific information? Like how much he makes , what insurance he has and what if anything he might be eligible for. Vague descriptions are of no use Anon. If you wish to be believed or paid attention to to I would suggest you provide some numbers. Or are you one of those folks down there in Florida I heard interviews with today that say "Obama care" sucks. When asked if they knew if it could help them one said "I haven't looked into it at all it just sucks." So it sucks because this person knows shit from shinola about the actual law. There is a leap of reasoning we all should follow. Don't think just follow the Tea Party line. You all will be just as poor and stupid as you always have been. People like you berate unions and any other organized labor to support the people most interested in fucking you into taking low wage jobs. Just why do you think the people on top have a vested interest in stupid. No original thought equals conformity. I have to laugh when I see or hear Fox or Limbaugh type commentators call anyone who disagrees with them sheeple.They want that sheep mentality. Those who can think do so and a lot of them don't hug Beck, Limbaugh and such. Because we are not the helpless sheep you wish for or wish to control.

    3. Anonymous, I do hope you take Jim's advice and relocate to Mogadishu, but before you do, definitely check out Captain Phillips, and pay very close and particular attention to the parts in which Muse and his crew members are given their marching orders by their social "superior." You'll fit right in. But no, you won't be the warlord giving orders, you'd be lucky if you wound up being Muse. It completely and utterly boggles my mind, that people like you are so blind to the fact that the comfortable, smug existence you enjoy is 99% owing to the fact that we have a functioning, working, government. You know? That thing your tea-besotted brethren are busily trying to dismantle any way they can?

  57. OK - I'm TDY to Denver. Working mid shifts with multi-service Gen-Y XBOX kids (I WEEP for the future!). Running on minimal sleep and Embassy Suites happy hour CabSab. So, I am in perfect shape to comment on the issue of the day. Which has nothing to do with Beck, liquified dinosaurs under permafrost, the unfairness of the ACA or Tokyo Rose.

    I am troubled and talking about citizenship. The cost and shared sacrifice of citizenship in the US of A. Talking heads spew about "hard working taxpayers" or "real American Patriots" or "support our Heroes in Uniform" (As long as THEIR kids don't join the Army). But hawt FNC chicks don't talk about Citizenship anymore. Nor do elected Tea Party dickheads, NPR, CBS and all the other 3 letter acronyms.

    There is a COST to being an American CITIZEN. And I'm talking more than taxes, and eff'd up DC traffic congestion and interminable PBS pledge drives, and higher rates to enable more people to have ACA enabled insurance. I'm talking about shared sacrifice for the nation.

    I'm talking about doing your OWN damn research when Mr. Wright poses an assumed but unanswered comment, and the unwashed masses expect Jim to 'clarify' his premise. WTF?

    When Jim writes "Yeah, THAT Tokyo Rose", I google the slutty voiced, WW2 West PAC bint and learn all bout the unfortunate Ms Toguri and/or the Battle for Athens for myself. I appreciate that Jim provides updates for those crying souls unable to look it up themselves, but the man is BUSY! Come on people! Hit the keyboards yourselves and free Jim to commentate on the next big thing.

    That is what being an educated American citizen is all about! I think. Cyanosis! - Tommy D


  58. Just a quick thanks to Jim for writing, and to (most of) all the rest of you for taking time to post thoughtful and helpful comments.

    I'm glad to learn more about Iva Toguri. I'm imagining a scared college student trying to figure out how to not end up being used in horrific ways, and choosing the lesser of two evils. She probably sat in a windowless booth to make her recordings or broadcasts, reading a prepared script, and at the end of the day didn't have any way to really relate to what effects her actions had on others. A friend of mine launched missiles from deep within a ship while stationed in the Persian Gulf, some twenty years ago. He gets upset from time to time, knowing that he hurt some people, but nowhere near as upset as another friend who was one of the first boots on the ground in Baghdad, leading an elite team of special forces guys to go do what they do.
    I have never put on the uniform of service for my country, and I'm past the age of being able to do so. I hold those who have served in the highest esteem, though.
    What would it be like, to be far away from home, scared, and forced to do something that wasn't more difficult than reading from a paper?
    Hero? No. Victim of circumstance? I can buy that one. Traitor? I'm not educated enough on the ins and outs to be able to say.

  59. Asinine comment of the day, Jim: Footnotes!

  60. Thanks Jim for another entertaining and informative post. I am at present focused on very different struggle, that being the one going on in Kiev, Ukraine, where a populace fed up with corrupt cronyism of its parasitic leadership is doing its best to unseat their government. And they are doing it without a 2nd Amendment. Weird, huh? We'll see how it turns out, but my guess is that if there had been widespread gun ownership in Ukraine, we'd be looking at another Syria right now. Keep on truckin' dude.

  61. Mr. Beck...May you have, the hottest spot in hell

  62. I can't stand by and let this grievous misstatement of facts go! Lakeview is not a suburb of Chicago but a neighborhood within Chicago. There! I feel better now.


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