The Sarah Palin Incident – Political Ends and Personal Destruction

By Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

In September of 2008, when Senator John McCain selected Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate on the Republican Ticket, my first blush reaction was that he had literally handed the Presidency to Obama on a silver platter.  As it turned out the Palin choice actually was a colossal mistake for the Republicans.  Moreover, the firestorm it triggered truly transcended the 2008 presidential campaign.

  The Palin Family 2007

Governor Palin apparently engenders two, and only two, emotions among female voters – either fear and loathing (not necessarily in that order) or complete admiration. In the last half century, with the possible exception of Anita Bryant, I can’t recall a more polarizing female appearance on the national scene.

Before I get to the meat of the Palin controversy, it’s important to set the national stage and establish the context of the scene in which she appears. We need to recall that women in the United States have almost always been engaged in a continuous and sometimes furious running gun battle for “women’s rights” and everything that $2 phrase represents.

The women’s liberation movement, at least in a modern sense, returned to life in 1961 with the creation of the Commission on the Status of Women under President Kennedy. After a very short time this federal commission dissolved into an amorphous cloud of state level commissions.

Just as it was beginning to look as if the feminist issue had been relegated to a slow death in committee, the National Organization for Women was formed in 1966. NOW’s initial goals, enunciated at its 1967 convention, were passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the repeal of all abortion laws.

The abortion agenda was particularly aggressive since, by comparison, the AMA had only recently (in the same year) voted to support “therapeutic abortions” and then only under three very narrow circumstances. (1) The pregnancy represented a direct threat to the health either physical or mental of the mother, (2) The unborn fetus would be born with a mental and/or physical defect, or (3) The pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

As we now know, ERA was doomed, but there was success with the abortion issue. In 1973, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Roe v. Wade, (1973) 410 U.S. 113 which overturned all state and federal anti-abortion laws inconsistent with it holdings. The details of the decision are a book in and of themselves. Suffice it to say that abortion suddenly became legal, at the woman’s choice, for any reason, up to the point where the fetus becomes “viable.” At the point of viability, conditions attach to the performance of the procedure. The abortion battle was protracted, and brutal, and continues to this day.  Which is not surprising considering the involvement of organized religion.

In the 1970s and 1980s the concept of “equal pay for equal work” was expanded into the broader, more inclusive concept of “equal pay for work of equal value.” This new definition seems to have included within its ambit an attack on “glass ceilings”. Along with this new concept came a growing sense of feminine pride in achievement and a desire for professionalism in the workplace. Something I have tried to instill in both my daughter and my son.

The remainder of the 20th century and the first years of this century have been filled with a continuing struggle against glass ceilings and a resurgence of anti-abortion sentiment.

With the above context in mind, I find myself observing the explosive discourse surrounding Sarah Palin and wondering if the anger I’m hearing will rob women of their credibility and, as a result erode, their hard earned gains. It seems that Sarah Palin’s mere existence is perceived by many to be an insult.

  The Alaskan Campaigne

The one organization which has ostensibly worked the hardest for women’s rights immediately turned its back on a woman who was attempting to achieve the second highest office in the land. Per, Kim Gandy, of the National Organization for Women, that organization announced it would endorse Obama and Biden. The basis of this rejection of Governor Palin was purportedly based on Ms. Palin’s personal belief in Right to Life.

The internet, as well as the “main stream” media immediately filled with vituperative comment on the Alaskan governor’s personal life, children, husband, and practically anything else even remotely related to her (i.e. her sister’s divorce, etc., ad nauseum).

Right to Life vs. Freedom of Choice

This is a purely religious controversy, laden with unfathomable and unprovable issues. If you believe that human life begins at conception, then an abortion is the intentional termination of a human life (i.e. murder). The language sounds strong, but (setting aside a state of intellectual denial) this is what it boils down to. A crystal clear case of either “yes” or “no.” The relevant question to ask a candidate is not so much, “which belief do you hold?” Rather, it’s “will you force others who disagree with you to conform to your belief?”  The latter is a fair question which seeks to identify the ideologues.

Rather than ask the right question, or even listen to the answer (you can find the Governor Palin’s answer on the internet) a large number of women (including the NOW organization) basically called her a traitor.

The unintended consequence to this, is the inescapable conclusion that feminists are not as interested in women’s rights as they are in their own philosophical agenda. And, any woman who disagrees with them isn’t entitled to equal rights.  (We sometimes see analogous behavior when those who demand freedom of speech refuse to let others talk.)

Governor Palin was even attacked for her decision to give birth to a special needs child with the resulting implication that the child should have been aborted. Of course, not all of this can be laid on the doorstep of the feminists. Much of the negative diatribe emanated from a left leaning press (there is of course also right-leaning press) as well as a left leaning entertainment industry (i.e. SNL).

Regardless, affirmative feminist support for the Governor was conspicuously absent.

From my outside point of view, NOW could have really racked up some points by publically defending the Governor’s right to her religious belief. It’s kind of like the ACLU defending the right of a neo Nazis to demonstrate. Equal rights actually does mean equal rights, whether you agree with the specific exercise or not.

Of course, an argument can be made that if Sarah Palin were to become President then she might have an opportunity to appoint a judge to the United States Supreme Court and shift the balance of the Court to the conservative side. That argument is a proper one, based on the information that the Governor is a conservative. Unfortunately, that argument is only being made to the extent it’s wrapped deeply within character assassination.

Contraceptives vs. Abstinence

Whether or not a women chooses to use a contraceptive or just plain abstinence is another fundamental question of religious belief. Moreover, there is a strong sentiment which suggests that the distribution of contraceptives to minors is tantamount to a societal endorsement of premarital sex. Again, the issue is intertwined with very intense religious beliefs.

Here again the law of unintended consequences lurks in the background. The fact that Governor Palin’s minor daughter was pregnant was used by female detractors as purported evidence that not only can’t the Governor control her own children, her preferred method of birth control is intrinsically flawed. These comments are totally irrelevant to the subject matter of the election and are not calculated to lead to the discovery of useful information upon which to base a vote.

The proper inquiry is – “will Palin attempt to subject others to her preferred method of birth control?” Rather than ask that question, female detractors chose to invade the privacy of a minor child and to suggest by innuendo that Palin’s beliefs are a fortiori dangerous and defective.

From the outside looking in, it appears that the objective of this criticism is character assassination rather than political discourse. For example, if the Governor’s intention was to let others find their own way on the issue, then her personal beliefs were never in issue.

As an aside, if Roe v. Wade were overturned this afternoon, abortion would not suddenly become illegal. The states would simply become free to pass their own laws on the subject.

Equal Pay For Work Of Equal Value

In order to be paid equally, for work of equal value, women must obtain a job of equal value. Interesting. This position is, at its most fundamental level, about glass ceilings. Governor Palin is a woman who has already shattered one glass ceiling, and with some help from her friends might shatter them all.

Unfortunately, the Governor’s accomplishments were buried under an avalanche of character attacks and outright falsehoods. Is it actually impossible to both applaud her for her success in the nomination and at the same time disagree with her politics? Don’t boxers (participants in a brutal full contact competition) shake hands, before they come out swinging? I don’t know about you, but whether or not I agree with her politics, I think Governor Palin’s selection as the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States was a fabulous milestone for women.

Working Moms vs. Stay At Home (“Soccer”) Moms

One of the most deep seated prejudices against women’s liberation has quite frankly been the male perception that women belong at home with the children, and that a business investment in a woman is a waste of precious time and money, because when they get pregnant they will leave and never return. I’ve heard this sentiment expressed in many a management meeting, and it’s always said by men, with a straight face, and in complete sincerity.

We all know, the women’s movement has struggled against this virulent stereotype for decades. So guess what we heard about Governor Palin? – “She has five kids and doesn’t have time for a political career.” And, we heard that from women. We have never heard that about male candidates.

In fact, the criticism of Governor Palin descended to the level accusing her of being a poor mother because she isn’t at home caring for her family. Implicit in this tripe is the implication that Mr. Palin is ineffectual as a stay-at-home dad. How that statement could be made without any evidence boggles the mind.

Playing The Experience Card

The most interesting, and probably most one-sided attack on Governor Palin was the assertion that she had no relevant experience. Let’s take a look at that.

At both the state and federal levels, government in the United States is structured in three branches: (1) the Executive; (2) the Legislative; and (3) the Judicial. The Executive Branch runs the government just like a CEO runs a corporation. The Legislative Branch writes laws and oversees their efficacy (oversight). The legislature runs nothing. It is not responsible for the management of anything. It is not analogous to a CEO, CFO, COO, or any other management position. The judicial branch interprets and enforces the law written by the legislative branch and that’s all it does.

McCain, Obama, and Biden are all Senators in the Legislative Branch. They write laws (btw Senator Obama hadn’t even authored a bill) and engage in oversight. I repeat, they do not manage anything, they do not run a governmental organization, they are not responsible for operations. They are not, and none of them have ever been, in the executive branch of any government. They – have – no – executive branch – management – experience – whatsoever – period.

Governor Palin, on the other hand, did have executive branch experience at both the city and state levels (you’re right not a huge amount of it, but she does have it.). The office of the Presidency is the top office in the executive branch. The conclusion is actually inescapable! Governor Palin had more executive experience than all three of the male candidates!

Does this qualify Governor Palin to be Vice President of the United States? Not necessarily, but it does render the argument that she has no relevant governmental experience completely spurious. Women (including Hilary Clinton) should be universally enraged by what went on here. I certainly am and I’m not even of the female persuasion.

Setting The Flares For The Future

In the first paragraph of this hubpage, I suggested that the Sarah Palin issue transcends the 2008 presidential campaign. I don’t retreat from that statement and respectfully suggest that Sarah Palin represents a clash of honest competing female interests, points of views, desires, wants and needs, and just plain heart felt aspirations.

At the end of the day, it seems that the manner in which women handle the issue of Sarah Palin will in great part define how they, themselves, are treated in the future. This election gave us a rare opportunity to look behind the curtain of the feminist movement and what we see there was decided by the feminists themselves.

At another level, this election became a forum in which a new morality was allowed to run free. It was one in which people could and did say anything and do anything, so long as it served their agenda. It was not enough to disagree, it became necessary to destroy.

By Darwinian selection we are breeding an entire generation of politicians who don’t give a wit for the people they serve. They are, however, very, very good at innuendo, issue avoidance, responsibility avoidance, and of course, character assassination.

By our own complacency we have allowed “winning” to become the arbiter of morality. Wasn’t it Hitler who said, “The winners will decide what is right, and what is wrong.” This my friends is the beginning of fascism – a state where individuals with nonconforming  points of view are destroyed.

By October 2, of 2008 the debate between Governor Palin and Senator Biden was over. The week preceding the debate was filled with some pretty intense press, accusing Governor Palin of outright ineptitude. She was accused of not being able to answer simple questions, and some of the right wing conservatives actually suggested she step down.

I was personally afraid for her to stand toe-to-toe with Senator Biden, a man with more than three decades of experience who had spent the previous 12 months on the campaign trail, giving speeches, town hall meetings, and participating in debates with the democratic Presidential candidates.

Moreover, I was concerned for the Governor’s ability to fend off Senator Biden’s well known ability to become sarcastic and abrasive. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Within a few minutes it became painfully obvious that Governor Palin was no pushover. In fact, throughout the debate the Governor emanated a quiet assurance, and a definite ability to both defend herself and to attack in an orderly and effective fashion.

At the end of the day it was clearly demonstrated that Governor Palin is no easy target and that Senator Biden was wise not to believe the press descriptions of her abilities. Prior to the debate, the Senator had said in more than one interview that he wasn’t taking the Governor lightly and that it was his intention to prepare as he would for any experienced opponent. And, in so doing Senator Biden showed Governor Palin more respect than the women’s rights organizations which should have supported her right to compete and to disagree with them.

At this point you might be asking yourself, “Why the history lesson?”  The answer is simple, it’s now 2013 and the “new politics” have settled in like concrete.  Winning is now accepted as sole arbiter of right and wrong.  Ideology has become a powerful god worshipped by politicians and reporters alike.  Innuendo and character assassination are the order of the day.  I offer you the gridlocks of the national debt, sequestrationboarder control, and gun control as supporting evidence.

And Governor Palin?  Well, she recently gave a speech at the annual CPAC convention and she still engenders the same reactions.  If you are a twitter user you might find hashtag Palin an interesting collection of comments.

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GORILLA REVIEW – Introduction to Connect The Dots

Rather than put together a traditional synopsis we like to introduce novels by quoting their prologue. What follows is the prologue to the novel, Connect The Dots. If you like politics mixed with world history watch for Connect The Dots, A Glimpse Into The Middle East.

CONNECT THE DOTS, A GLIMPSE INTO THE MIDDLE EAST

Note:  This work was originally intended to be published as both an ebook and a print on demand trade paperback, but for his own reasons Mr. Pennyworth has decided to serialize this work and publish it on Mercurys Pen.  The following Prologue is published by Permission of Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or conveyed via the internet or a Web site without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

PROLOGUE

When I began this project it was my intention to simply report on events in Lebanon so as to highlight certain facts about the organization known as Hezbollah.  My  thought was to bring some unbiased clarity to a muddy and often misrepresented situation. However, it soon became obvious that even a limited discussion of Hezbollah in the absence of some discussion of Iran and Syria would be grossly incomplete. Of course a discussion of those two countries (as well as the major non-state actors) had to be placed within the greater context of the religion of Islam. To complete the picture it was also necessary to place the whole of the Middle East into at least a minimal historical focus. Although I have attempted to do all of this in the simplest, most straightforward way possible, a project initially intended to be nothing more than a pamphlet has grown to the size of a small novel. Of course, anything but the most cursory discussion would fill a small library.

In the process of streamlining the facts a large number of important issues have been bypassed. For example, the vulnerability of the Muslim masses and their reasons for discontent has not been addressed. Not because I view that issue as unimportant, but because it muddies the waters in this narrow discussion of identifying the real agenda of the various state and non-state actors. Where necessary, detail has been sacrificed in favor of clarity and simplicity.  My apologies.

So.  Why am I writing this?  Well, the entire effort has been based upon the simple premise that submerged within the miasma of information which bombards us on a daily basis are the bits and pieces of a much greater mosaic. These telltales are the tracks left by those who would control our world and shape our futures. Usually this information is so fleeting, so innocuous, or so disconnected it barely represents a dot on our personal radar screens. But, if we go to the effort of pulling together the seeming trivia of the international scene we will see an alarming reflection of the past being played out in the present.

Are today’s events repeating history? I believe they are. In fact, I’m convinced we are watching a replay of events analogous to those which presaged World War II. I am also convinced that our intellectual conceit has blinded us to the basic realities of the world and, in the end, made us vulnerable to those who simply do not play by our rules. While we focus on the superfluous, and argue the irrelevant, others lay down their lives as evidence of their sincerity.

Our failure to come to grips with the reality of millions of undocumented illegal aliens within our borders has literally invited our enemies to go wherever they want in our heartland. Why do we allow this? Because we like to believe in higher principles.  Unfortunately, those principles also make us vulnerable.

At the same time we tolerate, indeed encourage, the rampant idiocy of our politicians (all political parties included), an army of very focused, very dedicated, true believers practice assembling roadside bombs.  And we don’t have a clue.

Are we worried when a young man with his whole life ahead of him decides to walk into a crowd of innocent women and children and set off a couple pounds of explosives laced with ball bearings? Not really. It didn’t happen here, and after all we’re too busy insulting the office of our own President and appointing independent prosecutors to investigate unimportant trivia.

I sometimes wonder if our legislatures have enough sense to come in out of the rain. But then these people didn’t elect themselves. We, you and I, elected them. And, by so doing we have approved and continue to approve their self-interested behavior.

There are no clear national priorities because we the voters haven’t insisted on them. Our leaders favor form over substance because we have allowed it. And truth is consistently the first victim because our national myopia is ubiquitous, inexplicable, and truly breathtaking.

Most frightening of all is the fact that very little is hidden from us, which I believe this work will prove.  I have taken a slice of time up thru 2006 and written down some of the important things all of us should have noticed.  These data points were public knowledge;  stuff which was available to each of us, if we had just paid attention.  My hope is that you will be surprised by what you missed.  So surprised, in fact, that you’ll argee with me that we better open our eyes and Connect The Dots before it’s too late.

Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

 

“The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic World… “ [Emphasis Added.]

“The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land…” [Emphasis Added.]

“As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map…”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Wednesday 26 October 2005)

 

“Those who can’t learn from History are doomed to repeat it.”

George Santayana (16 December 1863 – 26 September 1952)

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, aka Abu Ali, aka Muhammed Haidar

(1889 – 1945)

Return To The Table of Contents

GORILLA REVIEW – Table of Contents

“The imagination is limitless”

I. PREFACE

Created in 2005, the Gorilla Review was originally intended to provide a forum for our book reviews, but since that time the work has expanded to include Introductions and Interviews.

This Table of Contents is hyperlinked into “Posts” which are stored somewhere on the internet as individual chapters, creating a virtual work which can be viewed from anywhere in the world as if its parts were all located on a single website.  If you see something you want to read just click on the hyperlink and you will be transported to the item.

Since nothing is ever completely finished this Table of Contents will change without notice to reflect additions and deletions to the body of work.  So check it periodically to see if anything has changed.

II.  eBOOKS – iBOOKS

eBooks/iBooks have definitely arrived and are rapidly gaining popularity.  While they won’t be putting the printed word completely out of business any time soon, the handwritting is on the wall.

This section contains a couple of Posts on the subject of eReaders and eBooks which will hopefully help you understand this exciting variation on the printed word.

1. eReaders and eBooks/iBooks – An Introduction

2. eBooks/iBooks – Useful References

III. BOOK INTRODUCTIONS

Rather than putting together a traditional synopsis, for some works where we have obtained permission of the author we like to introduce the novel by quoting the entirety of the Prologue. Gorilla Review Introductions should provide an interesting change of pace from the standard Book Review format.  We believe this type of approach was first adopted by Google books.

1. Introduction to Connect The Dots, A Glimpse Into The Middle East

2. Introduction to Kokoro

3. Introduction to The Diva Incident

4. Introduction to The Armageddon

5. Introduction to Shu

IV. BOOK REVIEWS

An eclectic collection of standard and/or not-so-standard book reviews. Usually book reviews amount to nothing more than teasors designed to either pan the work or to spark interest in it. Some of the Gorilla reviews fall within this description and others are closer to being a synopsis than a typical review. When we give you more than the standard amount of detail we will also give you a warning so we don’t ruin the story for you.  We personally hate it when someone tells us how the story ends.

1. Gorilla Review – BLOOD PRICE by Tanya Huff (very brief review)

2. Gorilla Review – THE BOOK OF THE DEAD by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

3. Gorilla Review – RENFIELD slave of dracula by Barbara Hambly

4. Gorilla Review – Preface To The Horus Heresy

5. Gorilla Review – Horus Rising – (Book One Of The Horus Heresy)

6. Gorilla Review – False Gods – (Book Two Of The Horus Heresy)

7. Gorilla Review – GENGHIS (Birth of an Empire) by Conn Iggulden

V. THE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

A. The backgrounds of selected authors with reference sites, if any, as well as descriptions of their body of work:

Wilbur Smith

B. Interviews with various authors and individuals of interest:

Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

1. Gorilla Review – Part 1, Francis Pennyworth, Jr. Interview

2. Gorilla Review – Part 2, Francis Pennyworth, Jr. Interview

3. Gorilla Review – Part 3, Francis Pennyworth, Jr. Interview

VI.  WEBSITES

1. ElectricRead  A site where various novels by Steven A. Hall (both eBook and trade print formats) can be purchased.  The eBooks or iBooks are presented in ePub formats compatible with iPhone, iPads, Tablets, Computer and Android operating systems.

2. Lulu A site where where authors can self publish books, calendars, photo albums etc.  Works can be ordered as printed books and/or eBooks in either ePub or PDF format.

3. Goodreads  A website for book readers and authors alike.  Goodreads claims a massive audience of 11 million users.

VII. BLOGS

1. MercurysPen

2. Digital Book Today

3. Jack Durish

4. The Masquerade Crew

5. Michael Rivers

6. The True Book Addict

7. Your Book Authors

8. Venture Galleries

VIII. SERIALIZED NOVELS

Connect The Dots, A Glimpse Into The Middle East

Chapter 1, A Darkness Of The Soul

Chapter 2, The Darkness Spreads

Chapter 3, Islam

Chapter 4, Iran – The Land Of The Aryans

Chapter 5, The Revolutionary Guard Corps  (Pasdaran), Iran’s Thought Police

Chapter 6, The Party Of God

Chapter 7, Syria

Chapter 8, Hamas

Chapter 9, The Ba’th Party

Chapter 10, The Fifth Republic Movement – The Darkness Continues To Spread

Chapter 11, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Mahdaviat

Chapter 12, Lebanon 2006 – 2007

Chapter 13, Two Frightening Concepts

Chapter 14, Trailing Dots

Chapter 15, Connecting The Dots

Glossary

Persons of Interest

Bibliography

Exhibit 1

End Notes

IX. OPINION ARTICLES

1.  Common Sense by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

Gun control and how we are failing to address the important issues.

2.  I Stole It – Now It’s Mine by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

A discussion of the issues surrounding gun control and how, in a number of ways, the current approach the current approach defies common sense.

3.  Other People’s Money by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

An opinion piece taking a cold hard look at the national debt and the government’s failue to deal with it.

4. Sequestration? by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

A discussion of the sequestration mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

5.  The Sarah Palin Incident – Political Ends and Personal Destruction by Francis Pennyworth, Jr.

A brief history of Governor Palin’s notoriety and the associated emergence of a meaner, counter-productive politics of personal destruction.

X.  REFERENCE

1.  Twitter Hashtags for authors.

A collection of useful twitter hastags for authors and readers.

2. Author Blogs

This is a collection of author blogs, some of them serve to promote only the author’s works, while others are part of an overall author “platform” and serve wider functions related to writing in general.  At a minimum this post should be an interesting if not useful reference.

If you have anyone to add let us know by Comment or email us at ElectricRead@gmail.com  Prior to writing this post we used #AuthorBlogs.  If you don’t see what you’re looking for here you might find it in Twitter under that hashtag.

 

♦   ♦   ♦

Additions to the Gorilla Review body of work will be reflected in this Table of Contents as they are published.

The works of Steven A. Hall are available at

ElectricRead

 

The Silent Years

Prologue

In the opening days of WWII my father’s B-17 bomber was strafed on the ground at Clark AFB in the Philippines. In the chaos that followed he and a few of his friends managed to get their hands on a Thompson submachine gun and a 45 cal. semi-automatic, and escape into the bush.

The abrupt transition from the corn fields of Iowa to the jungles of Mindanao almost killed him. But in the end, he survived to join up with a band of American guerillas under the command of Col. Fertig.

In the years after the war my father wrote a short story entitled, “The Silent Years” which was intended to be the precursor to a book. The short story was never published (Readers Digest came close) and unfortunately the full book was never written. Somehow it seemed appropriate that the short story finally see the light of day. I hope you find it interesting. Who knows, maybe one of your own parents, or grandparents, were also hiding in the jungle somewhere near my father.

THE SILENT YEARS

by Major Geo. O. Hall, USAF (Ret.)

The thunder rumbling in the hills made good its promise of rain, and coconuts loosened by the first gusts of wind thumped the turf. My khaki trousers, with the legs cut off above the knees to patch the seat and my khaki shirt with the sleeves shortened to reinforce the back were quickly soaked. Black mud squished up between my toes as I slithered along the carabao trail. My .45 automatic in its service holster slapped my right hip as if to spur me on.

And then I saw it. Perched on mahogany pilings was the radio station, capped with kugan grass thatch. The antenna feeder line lead from a shuttered window up to an antenna strung between fifty foot bamboo poles.

BOEING’S 17-E, FIRST MASS PRODUCED FORTRESS

 

This was January, 1943, nine long months after General Wainright’s surrender on The Rock. The jungle had swallowed the vestiges of our defeat on Bataan and the shattered aluminum bodies of B-17 Flying Fortresses lay dully among the debris of Clark Field.

For most American survivors there had been no alternative but enemy prison camps. A very few had been more fortunate. They had a choice.

Though much has been said about the heroic siege of Corregidor and equally heroic regaining of the Philippines, very little has been released concerning the long silent years in between. How did new Thompson submachine guns suddenly appear in these islands? How did American prisoners, last seen behind the barbed wire at Davao, suddenly appear in Australia more than two thousand miles to the south? How was enemy shipping so consistently torpedoed in Philippine waterways?

I was one of those who had a choice when our world collapsed about us, one of the fortunate few who could surrender or side-step into the jungle and fight on. Once committed to fighting on there was no turning back. To be caught meant cold steel in the guts. A guerilla is not out for medals, he has a will to win born of desperation.

The main might of the Nipponese military machine rumbled southward through Java, the Celebes, and into New Guinea. As evadees scattered throughout the Philippines, we were aware only of the happenings under our small saucer of sky. We were isolated.

As guerillas we were free, but ours was the freedom of the hunted. We had only the clothes we stood in and the guns that were in our hands when our flag fell. We needed supplies from friendly forces now remote by thousands of miles, if our freedom was to be more than that of foxes running before the hounds.

Food was scarce, a diet of sun dried fish, carabao jerky, coarse ground corn and sweet potato leaves was unfamiliar to Americans. Some became enured to this new existence. Others lost strength, contracted dysentery or malaria and died.

I was cured of deadly dysentery by drinking a concoction of herbs brewed by a Filipino friend. The jungle was old Zoilo’s drugstore. He cured the growing, gangrenous tropical ulcers on my feet without the synthetic miracle of wonder drugs.

After months of looking at great, red sausages for feet, I thought these extremities were wasting away, atrophying , when they dwindled to their normal size. What a pleasure it was to walk again.

During this convalescent period, I stayed with Zoilo and his sizable family in their remote hideout on the headwaters of the Bubunawan river far above Cagayan City on Mindanao, the southernmost island of the Philippines. We trapped small, fresh water shrimp and eels in the river which seemed to have no fish. Camote leaves and “puko,” a tender jungle fern, were our vegetables.

Many Filipino families made it possible for Americans to live to fight again though they knew the price they might pay for harboring us was death.

When I could travel again, I located a battery powered radio receiver belonging to a school teacher of Cagayan. He now taught school under The Conqueror’s flag. The schools books were censored but this schoolteacher’s mind was not. “Who needs such books?” he said. On weekends this teacher retreated to his few hectares of land in the hills. Here he had buried his receiver in defiance of the edict that all radios be turned in.

A Syrian merchant operated a small rice mill in this area. It was powered by a single cylinder diesel that now ran quite well on coconut oil. The Syrian had surrendered his radio but had retained his generator and rectifier. “They just ask for radio,” he said with merchant cunning.

Now we had news of the war. I published news bulletins but it was difficult to make them sound encouraging. It had become obvious that the deliverance of the Philippines was to take years rather than months.

While tuning the receiver dial late in 1942, I chanced upon a faint, new station calling. “Australia, calling Australia. This is a group of Americans in the Philippines. We have valuable information for you. We need ammunition and medicine…”.

Intercepting this call gave me a thrilling surge of hope. I had long dreamed of what could be done with a transmitter.

I finally learned that the station I had heard might be at Col. Fertig’s headquarters near Misamis on the far side of Iligan Bay. I heard from a guerilla courier that Col. Fertig was creating an army of resistance from the debris of defeat.

Barefoot, I set out for Misamis. On Christmas eve I attended a torch lit midnight mass in an ancient Spanish cathedral in guerilla held coastal barrio of Aloran. From the church steps a guerilla sentry watched a Nipponese patrol launch chugging in the moonlight along the outer reef. It was low tide and an expanse of water, too shallow for the launch, lay between the reef and the beach. Father Theodore Daigler of New York intoned the mass in cadence, it seemed, with the chugging launch. He gave the Gospel in the local Visayan dialect.

The patrol launch cruised the coast line daily after Christmas but by New Year’s eve I had located a Filipino fisherman who would chance the eighty kilometer crossing of Iligan Bay in his small banca when the weather outlook was better. I was impatient. The weather looked fine to me so I taunted the fisherman with, “Ikao hadluk, tingali?” (You are afraid, perhaps?). It was an unfair accusation which I fortunately lived to regret. The skipper cast a sharp glance at his crew of two and brusquely motioned me into his slender craft.

The evening breeze filled our patched, triangular mainsail and jib and the narrow dugout hull knifed out into the darkening waters leaning first on one bamboo outrigger and then on the other. The sun quickly slipped below the wave scalloped horizon. Unseen clouds shrouded the moon and stars. It was dark.

Sudden winds blasting in from the Mindanao Sea whipped mere waves into black mountains. With only the small jib flying the banca scudded down steep, watery slopes, buried half its length in the boiling trough and staggered up to the next crest only to roller coaster sickeningly down again. It was useless to bail, only the all wood construction kept us afloat. I have never ridden in a faster bath tub.

Beyond the outriggers, the ebony sky merged indistinguishably with black water. The skipper, who never relaxed at the steering oar, could divine direction only by the wind on his cheek. My concern that I would never see new year’s day, 1943, slowly turned to conjecture on where we might land. Under what flag would the beach sentries be?

In early morning darkness we shot over the boiling phosphoresence of the far side reef and dragged the banca onto wave packed sand. Then we became uneasily aware of the silent, shadowy form squatting beside the bole of a coconut palm. In the darkness we sensed rather than saw the rifle leveled at us. Sea water was still draining from my holster. What a ridiculous situation.

“Mayon Gabii” (Good evening), I said and the gun barrel raised. It was a guerilla sentry.

Before saying good-bye to the skipper and his crew I offered them my last few pesos. They refused the wet money with a shrug. They would have refused gold. “Teniente, we fight for the same cause. No need to pay,” was the skipper’s reply.

I found Col. Fertig to be a “doer”. Under his guidance the unusual became the commonplace. However, his widespread and rapidly growing underground movement had to be coordinated within and had to have the cooperation of “outside forces” if this guerilla venture was to be fully effective. A radio net was needed.

After assigning me to his transmitter station some thirty kilometers distant, Col. Fertig’s parting words were, “We must get out to Australia on that radio.”

I remembered this final statement as I slithered barefooted in the rain up the muddy carabao trail to the station.

KZOM’s young crew gave me a warm welcome and dry clothes. We were all in our early twenties. There was Konko and Johnson formerly with Cmdr. Bulkely’s “They Were Expendable” Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron.

Konko and Johnson had crewed the speedy, little PT boats which slipped Gen. Mac Arthur from Corregidor through the Nipponese Fleet to Mindanao, from whence the General flew to assume his Pacific Command in Australia. There was Bob Ball an Air Corps radio operator like myself. Lt. Almendras was KZOM’s Chief Radio Technician. Almendras, working with electronic scrap and bamboo, accomplished weird, technical things that finally made our mission possible.

And there was Mr. Opendo who had been a Philippine Bureau of Postes radio operator in peacetime. Opendo ignored the Conqueror’s edict and buried his station’s equipment. Later he reported in to Col. Fertig and offered his radio and himself to the cause.

KZOM was now off the air. A transformer had burned out and Almendras was struggling to repair it with the junk on had.

I became engrossed in a old volume of “The Amateur’s Radio Handbook” and formed an operational plan to use should we ever get the old rat’s nest of wires, tubes and bamboo fired up again. The gang accepted the plan. Everything else had been tried so why not?

On our next attempt we would use Morse Code which carries further than voice transmission. We would use a directional, long wire antenna. We would answer a specific station on its receiving frequency.

I was particularly intrigued by KFS, San Francisco, which could be heard nightly calling, “CQ, answer on 36 or 48 meters”. We received KFS best on 36 meters so that would be the frequency of our replay. Of course, KFS was using powerful equipment in contrast with our puny gear.

By the latter part of January 1943, Almendras had the radio ready to go, I still had not found the wire I needed and my simple end fed antenna hung out the window like a clothesline.

“KFS, KFS,” the tubes winked at me as I tapped out the lengthy call and repeated our own call sign. Then we listened to our receiver, as we had so many times before, and heard nothing but crackles of static. Then came “_ZOM, KZOM!”. Our call! “KZOM DE KFS,” the signal repeated. We had been heard! Suddenly the light of distant Frisco illuminated our dingy hut. The refrain, “San Francisco, open your Golden Gates…” sang through my mind. We arranged for a schedule at the same time the following night.

News gets around by rattan vines as well as grape vines and a large coil of copper wire, with which the Moros like to decorate the handles of their bolos, mysteriously appeared the next day. An eager throng of volunteer guards helped set up my directional antenna.

That night we transmitted a coded message addressed boldly to the War Department. (This was in pre-Pentagon days.) Our message stated that we were a group of Americans holding out in the Philippines, that we had valuable information and that we wanted to establish a regular schedule and secure codes. We attempted to transmit a furtive hint regarding the simple code we were using.

We never knew if our code hint was recognized but within twenty four hours the War Department received our message, deciphered it, drafted an answer in the same code and sent it to KFS for relay to us.

Col. Fertig was exuberant when he read the War Department’s reply. Recognition and material support, without which our venture was doomed, was now forthcoming. Volumes of strategic data were transmitted. Our traffic was shifted to KAZ, Gen. Mac Arthur’s station in Australia.

A U.S. submarine sneaked through to us in February, ‘43, with a small cargo of clothing, medicine and essential equipment. Large freight subs later delivered more than one hundred tons of key material each trip. They did not return empty. Non-combatants, including women and children trapped abroad by the suddenness of war, were carried out to safety. Many Americans who escaped from enemy prison camps were evacuated. Two of these were Capt. Dyess, USAAF and Capt. S. M. Mellink, U.S. Army. Bill Dyess was saved only to perish later crash landing a fighter plane. Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, proudly bares his name. Brig. Gen. Mellink would later head Air Defense training at Ft. Bliss, Texas.

A submarine ambush destroyed a Nipponese convoy northbound out of Davao, there is no victory without sorrow. Unknown to us one unmarked transport carried an estimated eight hundred American prisoners below sealed hatches. The enemy, sticking by their sinking ships, machine gunned these prisoners in the water. Little more than seventy reached the beach. We moved these emaciated survivors to a sub rendezvous area and they were soon in stateside hospitals.

I took new radio equipment to enemy occupied Zamboanga City to cover the Basilan Straits shipping lanes. Our intelligence network mushroomed. Through the collective reporting of our coastal radios, hundreds of thousands of tons of enemy shipping was war materials went to the bottom instead of to the front lines in New Guinea.

When our navy hit Truk, the Nipponese naval strength in these areas fell back through Basilan Straits. Admiral Nimitz radioed back the Navy’s “Well Done” in answer to my detailed report.

Guerilla radios pin pointed prime targets to our bombers and provided advance information regarding the weather on-target.

Our intelligence data aided in the selection of Tacloban, Leyte for the initial Philippine beachhead. The landing began early on October 20th, 1944.

When an all out Nipponese Navy pincer action imperiled this landing, guerilla coastal units assisted in setting up, in Surigao Straits, one of naval history’s most famous and economical ambushes. Little U.S. PT boats had a field day torpedoing capital ships as they crossed the “T”.

The jaws of the pincer action were shattered, Tacloban was secured and island by island the flag of “The Land of The Morning” replaced “The Rising Sun.”

Ragged and gaunt Filamerican Guerillas had done their share in turning initial defeat into final victory. But it should never be forgotten that with the Filamerican Guerillas stood the equally ragged and gaunt Filipino civilians. Without their support we could never have been more than foxes running before the hounds.

THE END