IFAQs

We see lots of pages devoted to Frequently Asked Questions. In the interest of diversity, a core value of our society and of Calwhine, we are pleased to offer for the first time in planetary history IFAQs: InFrequently Asked Questions.

Q: Why isn’t it a bigger deal that Barack Obama is alive only because of the CIA and its attempts to improve America’s image and to influence other nations via various initiatives in the 1950s and 1960s?

A: I have no idea. Unlike some folks, I don’t think less of Obama because of his indirectly CIA-engineered life. I’m just amazed this history isn’t widely known, that it doesn’t inspire jokes from late-night comics and conspiracy theories from Oliver Stoners, especially considering how much interest there was in Bush 41′s CIA connections.

Here’s a short version taken from an essay in The Claremont Review of Books:

Barack Obama, Jr.’s mother, father, stepfather, grandmother, and grandfather seem to have been well connected, body and soul, with the U.S. government’s then extensive and well-financed trans-public-private influence operations.

In the 1950s and ’60s few cared where, say, the State Department or foundations such as Ford ended and the CIA began. The leading members of the U.S. government’s influence network moved easily from public to private stations and vice versa. Here are a few examples. Howard P. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Indonesia between 1958 and 1965—arguably the chief planner of the coup that removed the Sukarno regime—became chancellor of the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center. Ann Dunham’s second husband, Lolo Soetoro, returned from the East-West Center to Jakarta to help in the struggle that the coup had begun. Another of Ann’s employers, the Ford Foundation’s international affairs division, was led by Stephen Cohen, who had come to Ford from the directorship of the International Association of Cultural Freedom, previously known as the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which organized countless left-leaning American academics into a corps (lavishly financed by the CIA) to promote social democracy around the world, and to staff many of the councils on foreign relations that spread around America in the 1950s. Among the participants were countless actual and future college presidents, including Richard C. Gilman, who ran Occidental when young Barack Obama enrolled there in 1979. In those years, any number of companies were CIA fronts, including Business International Corporation, which gave young Obama his first job after graduation from college.

I think this is fascinating stuff. I wonder what a history of the 20th century would read like if we knew of all the stealthy ways that powerful nations, organizations, corporations and individuals had influenced events.

Q: What is the deal with women’s magazines? If their covers really reflect the dominant concerns of their tens of millions of readers, that’s pretty sad stuff. “31 Ways to Make His Toes Curl,” “99 New Tricks to Keep the Boudoir Lively,” “What ‘Bad’ Girls Can Teach Good Girls,” etc.

          

 

 

 

 

A: Concur. It’s as if it’s 1955, not 2011. Based on the covers of a half-dozen women’s magazines, one would assume that women see their lives as almost entirely defined by whether or not they have managed to attract a boyfriend. Really? Really? The headlines on men’s magazines don’t reflect well on men, to be sure, but they don’t suggest entrenched, perpetual personal anxieties that don’t seem particularly, well, healthy.

Q: Would world history have looked differently if Adolf Hitler’s father hadn’t changed the family name from Schickelgruber to Hitler a few years before Adolf was born?

A: I think it’s quite possible that Hitler would never have risen to power if his last name were Schickelgruber. “Heil Schickelgruber” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as smoothly as “Heil Hitler.” Long, unusual names are rarely found among political leaders, perhaps because such names are often mocked or thought odd, and not just by kids. This is why so many immigrants from Europe in the 20th century truncated their names after arriving in the U.S. Three Stooges shorts during World War II often made joking references to Schickelgruber and British intelligence agencies used it in propaganda campaigns to mock and undermine Hitler. No U.S. president has ever had a last name that long (14 letters); Eisenhower and Washington are the only presidents whose last names were longer than nine letters. No leader of post-monarchial (1918) Germany has had a last name longer than 10 letters.

If Germany had another leader outside of Hitler from 1933 on, it seems that Germany’s resentments over the results and aftermath of World War I might have been channelled in a less ferociously destructive path than Hitler took. On the other hand, a former Harvard professor’s best-selling book argued that blaming what Germany did as a nation from 1933 to 1945 on Hitler ignored the streak of “eliminationist antisemitism” in Nazi-era Germany that made the troops who carried out the Holocaust “Hitler’s Willing Executioners.”

Q: You’re a numbers junkie, a “seamhead” in the words of a Los Angeles Times sportswriter. Make a case for numerology.

A:
What am I, a trained circus animal? “Do this, Chris.” “Do that, Chris.” Grrr.

OK, here goes: The world’s most famous and revered scientist, Albert Einstein, was born on pi: 3.14. March 14, 1879.

What’s that? You say that Europeans put the day of the month first, so in Einstein’s case, it would have been written 14.3?

OK, never mind.

What Gawker wrote.