The surprising influence of Japan
As someone who drives a car made in Japan, and as one who occasionally dines at a Sushi train, I am one of the many who is aware of the large influence of Japan in the modern world. What seems to have slipped out of general awareness is how far back that influence goes. It has been infuencing us for over 100 years.
Even when Commodore Perry anchored his black paddle-wheeler in Tokyo Bay in 1854 and signed a treaty opening Japan to the West, he was impressed by the rich Japanese culture -- and that impression has continued on from there. By the late 19th century there was quite a fad in Western Europe for all things Oriental, both Chinese and Japanese. This was very evident in Art Nouveau, the dominant art of the Belle Epoque. As one review says:
"Art Nouveau was not a style but a movement which was a reaction against the stuffy over-decoration of the nineteenth century. It took its early inspiration from the work of William Morris, Arthur Mackmurdo, and Walter Crane, and fused these with an enthusiam for Chinoiserie and Japonisme. And as a movement it errupted very suddenly in the 1890s, spread throughout Europe and even to the USA – and then ended just as abruptly in the first decade of the new century."
But while Westerners were enthusing (justifiably, in my view) about Japanese art, the Japanese were embarking on a uniquely determined attempt to catch up with the West technologically, something they had pretty much achieved as the dawn of the 20th century broke. Most Asian nations are still modernizing in the 21st century. Japan did it in the 19th. There is no doubt that they are a remarkable people.
And as I have previously pointed out, the culmination of that catch-up in the defeat of Russia in 1905 energized the West enormously. A civilization that was already esteemed became even more so -- to the extent of being taken as a model in many ways.
But Japanese culture, like Chinese culture, is a culture of honour/shame rather than a culture of moral absolutes so its influence was in some ways atrocious. Again as I have previously pointed out, its influence on military doctrine led to the mass slaughter of ONE'S OWN TROOPS being seen as a good thing!
And we see another awful instance of the power of honour/shame in the episode below:
I happened to be watching one of those TV progs about antiques the other day. This one was called "Flog It" and it encourages people to dig out old stuff they don't want, get it valued by experts and, if it is worth anything, either sell it to a dealer or put it into auction.
Apparently one of the things that can add extra value to an antique is its "provenance", i.e. its history, especially if it has some particular association with a person or event that makes the item "come alive" and become more interesting and collectible.
On this occasion an elderly woman was selling a set of medals. Alongside the medals she had an old, faded sepia photograph of two boys sitting either side of a young girl. She explained that the picture was taken just before World War I; the girl was her mother and the two boys her uncles - that she had never known. She went on to explain why she had never known them.
Just after the war broke out, one of her uncles was on a bus when a woman approached him and pinned a white feather on him. Readers will recognise this as a familiar insult used by women at the time to shame young men into joining the military and going out to fight in the war. The white feather did exactly what it was designed to do; the young man felt so humiliated by the woman's act that he promptly signed up. But he had to lie about his age in order to get in. Why? Because he was only fifteen years old. That's right: FIFTEEN. He looked older, but that was his precise age.
The medals on show on the programme were the ones he and his brother, who followed him into the army, won in their brief lives. Within a year of signing up, they were both dead on the killing fields.
Dead. Wasted. Before they could start their own families, before they even had a vote, before they had any chance of fulfilling their promise. Brave, honourable, but uselessly dead.
The presenter of the programme could not hide his shock at the story. It is good that people can still register such shock, because we should never forget the lessons. Did that woman who pinned the feather ever know what wickedness she had perpetrated? Did she ever care?
It occurs to me that in order to pin the feather on the young man, she must have deliberately taken it out with her that day. She must have had it in her bag or whatever, and was specifically looking for a young man to pin it on. It could not have been a spontaneous act: it was planned. She had a clear intent to inflict personal shame and misery, and ultimately complete destruction, on an innocent young man she didn't even know. She might as well have pulled out a gun and shot him. But she got clean away with it."
What kind of person is it that approaches a random stranger and calls him a coward knowing nothing about him, not his age, his occupation, his health and fitness, any of his history at all, the only type of person who does this is one who feels completely invulnerable, secure and confident in the knowledge that they would not be censored or criticized"
Fortunately, the follies of WWI were rapidly recognized as soon as the war was over and Western Christian values were more or less restored throughout Europe.
During WWI, Japan itself continued its alliance with Britain but mainly undertook naval operations (Would you believe Japanese navy warships assisting the British even in the Mediterranean?) -- so Japanese values continued on as before, leading them into the disaster of their conflict with the USA in WWII.
I might say something tomorrow about the deeper reasons behind the early fascination with Japan.
Barack Obama’s War on the Middle Class
Like conflict, numbers have a way of concentrating the mind. Everyone knows the economy is in bad shape. But just how bad is it? As President Obama campaigns to move the country “Forward” and tries to scare the middle class into voting against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (rather than for him), it’s critical to note how badly Americans’ incomes have fared in the Obama economy.
According to the Washington Post, “Incomes have dropped more since the beginning of the recovery than they did during the recession itself.” The Post cites a report which notes that “from June 2009 to June 2012, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 4.8 percent to $50,964.”
A broader historical comparison reveals just how acute the present crisis is. The report further notes that “median income is 7.2 percent below its December 2007 level and 8.1 percent below where it stood in January 2000, which was at $55,470.” Such grim news is just the latest reminder that President Obama’s leadership has left Americans poorer than they were under George W. Bush, and poorer than they’ve been in a generation.
Indeed, as a result of Barack Obama’s failure to stem the economic bleeding, the Federal Reserve reported earlier in the summer that the recession erased two decades’ worth of our collective wealth. There have been 42 straight months where the unemployment rate has exceeded 8%. Offering four more years of economic woe is anything but “Forward.”
It’s no secret the prolonged recession has most hurt the very people President Obama ostensibly intended to help with his ill-conceived government “investments,” the middle class. The middle class, i.e. those making between $39,000 and $118,000 (according to the Pew Research Center), has borne the brunt of the bad economy. As the above numbers demonstrate, three years after the recession technically ended (August 2009), the recession continues to ravage the middle class.
These are facts President Obama cannot mention. And in the Leftist playbook, when you cannot tell the truth, you deceive and personally attack those who dare to do so. Further, you attempt to divide people by artificial barriers, like income. Hence Barack Obama’s obsession with Mitt Romney’s tax returns. There is something gross about categorizing Americans by their gross income. In the Obama worldview, you are your W-2.
Seeing the nation as distinct “classes,” or better yet castes, is illogical and offensive. It’s illogical because there are not separate classes of Americans. Our motto is out of many one, not out of many, many. And it’s offensive because it ignores one of America’s best attributes: upward social mobility. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs were not born billionaires. And we all know President Obama was not born a millionaire.
The tenuous relationship with the truth that characterizes his best selling autobiographies is evident in his dishonest campaign to win over the middle class. Like the Good Samaritan offering to tend to the wounded traveler by inflicting further harm upon him, the president claims to support the middle class but undermines it by creating more government dependents than private employees. As more people go to their mailbox to receive government handouts than go to work to earn a paycheck, and as Obama guts the welfare reform work requirement, he touts both as progress. In an opposite world George Costanza could only dream of, Barack Obama attacks the middle class like a scourge to be eradicated, while simultaneously claiming to save it. The cognitive dissonance is dizzying, and alarming. To wit:
Barack Obama claims to support unemployed Americans while pandering to and bribing illegal immigrants, and punishing state-based efforts to address illegal immigration and the attendant violence and wage depression.
Barack Obama affirms the middle class vote while marginalizing that vote by seeking to provide ballots to felons and illegal immigrants, rather than soldiers deployed abroad, and by litigating against overwhelmingly popular voter ID initiatives and providing federal tax dollars to shady outfits that register felons, dead people, and Mickey Mouse.
Barack Obama claims to support middle class values while mocking religious voters as weak clingers and forcing religious institutions to provide free contraception and abortifacients, in violation of their most sacred beliefs.
Barack Obama claims to support middle class jobs but has unleashed his EPA to undermine the domestic energy industry that employs and feeds the middle class in many parts of our nation, targeting coal plants for death by regulation and impeding new domestic and offshore drilling on public land, like the Keystone Pipeline.
Barack Obama claims to support middle class healthcare while imposing the Affordable Care Act, which will raise premiums, decrease care, encourage employers to drop coverage, and put government bureaucrats between patients and doctors.
Barack Obama claims to support middle class education but opposes tested and proven education reforms – vouchers and charter schools – that would drastically improve education outcomes for middle and lower class students stuck in failing public schools.
Barack Obama claims to support the middle class’ future, but he has done nothing about the deficit, and nothing to address the unfunded obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that will bankrupt the middle class in a few years’ time.
The evidence is undisputed. Barack Obama’s claims to support the middle class are fiction, contempt masquerading as care. Politicians, no less than individuals, are judged by their actions, not simply their words. The distortion and demonization Barack Obama peddles on the campaign trail cannot hide the damage his policies have caused middle class Americans. They deserve better than him, and better than the “Forward” he offers. In Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, they have the chance to choose it.
Leftist logic: Paul Ryan’s Black College Girlfriend Could Mean He’s Racist
Paul Ryan had a black girlfriend in college? The Root’s Kelli Goff suggests in this article that blacks should be suspicious of this, implying Ryan could be a racist. Maybe a call to the Guinness Book of World Records is in order. Ryan isn’t the first white man to date a black person and certainly won’t be the last. Ryan dating a black woman in college shows me he’s just as audacious in his personal life (evolved and open-minded) as he is in his approach to governance.
But apparently, interracial dating is a story only when a white Republican does it. President Obama dated white women in college and law school and that never became a significant story during the 2008 campaign. In fact, discussion by the mainstream media of the President Obama dating white women in college and law school often implied that he was more tolerant, complicated and interesting. Instead, the Root’s political writer Keli Goff speculates just the opposite of Ryan that because Ryan dated a black woman in college, doesn’t mean he’s NOT a racist.
When it comes to a white conservative politicians interracial dating, the Liberal media portrays it as something negative. “Is the fact that Ryan has dated interracially a noteworthy detail to consider when analyzing his politics and policies?” wrote Goff.
Referencing no examples of behavior by Ryan that could be viewed racist, Goff only suggests that one day Ryan may be faced with racist allegations and use the fact that he dated a black woman in college as his defense. She writes: “Here's a well-known phrase that has virtually become a punch line: When someone finds himself on the ropes facing an allegation of racism, the go-to reflex defense is usually something along the lines of "But some of my best friends are black!" Translation: "I can't possibly be racist or racially insensitive because there are black people I like and they like me. So there."
Ryan doesn’t have a record of pushing legislation harmful to blacks, he authored a budget plan to help all Americans by reducing America’s debt, reforming our tax code and fixing entitlement programs to keep them from going bankrupt. But instead of pointing to specific legislation or actions by the congressman that might be construed as racist, Goff eagerly pushes a racist smearing of Ryan when there is ZERO evidence to suggest such a charge.
Goff like liberal journalist Toure Neblett is engaging in race baiting journalism because she knows black support for Obama is slipping and wants to either discourage blacks from voting for Mitt Romney or voting at all. A recent AP poll found black support for Obama has dropped from 95% to 82% due to Obama’s support of gay marriage and abysmal unemployment rate plaguing blacks, which is almost twice the national average.
By putting Ryan in the same company as Strom Thurmond, a professed segregationist who fathered a baby with his “black servant,” Goff is asking readers to believe Ryan may be a racist. She also points out that cable news pundit Lou Dobbs been married to a “Mexican-American woman” even though for years he “was the face of the anti-illegal-immigration crusade.”
While Goff professes at the end of her piece she’s “not calling Ryan a racist,” the question arises why she wrote this story to begin with? I agree with Goff “if you want to know where a politician's heart lies when it comes to a particular community, it may be best to look at that person's policies . . . rather than personal relationships” or the color of his skin. After three and half years, I’d like to see black journalists like Goff start to critically evaluate Obama’s policies and not continue to give him a free pass because he’s the country’s first black president.
From Jay Leno
They’re now worried that Tropical Storm Isaac could hit Florida during next week’s Republican convention. But Florida is ready for it. Thanks to President Obama’s economic policies, many businesses down there are already boarded up.
It’s now being reported that Joe Biden will go to the Republican convention to try to cause problems for Mitt Romney. Then after that, he will go to the Democratic convention where he will definitely cause problems for President Obama.
At a campaign stop in Virginia, Joe Biden said he is such a NASCAR fan, “I’d trade being vice president in a heartbeat for winning Daytona.” To which President Obama said, “Deal!”
President Obama met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the Oval Office. They agreed on a new economic plan after losing last night’s big Powerball lottery.
After his latest gaffe, Joe Biden has a new slogan — “Chains you can believe in.”
It was 109 degrees today in Los Angeles. It was so hot today, Joe Biden was putting his foot in his mouth just to cool it off.
Police in Florida have arrested a man who said he finally achieved his goal of shoplifting in all 50 states. You know what you call someone who steals from all 50 states? Congressman.
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