Saturday, February 6, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, February 6, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page confirms the rumor which had circulated since the conclusion of the Casablanca Conference that General Dwight Eisenhower was now promoted to commander of all Allied forces in North Africa, a move presaged by the announcement the day before of the replacement of Eisenhower by General Frank Andrews as chief of all U. S. forces in Europe. The command change was necessitated by the ever closing gap between the British Eighth Army and the other Allied forces in Tunisia, as General Montgomery had now moved his forces 60 miles into Tunisia. General Eisenhower now had full coordinating command over the forces of the Eighth Army under the immediate command of General Alexander and his subordinate as field commander, General Montgomery.

Action reports from the Tunisian front showed relatively light activity for the fact of rainy weather.

Wes Gallagher of the Associated Press reports of the problematic logistical nightmare overcome by the Allied forces in having to prepare and ship an army 3,000 miles from Northern Ireland to North Africa, then transport it and set up its supply lines over four mountain roads stretching six hundred miles to the front in Tunisia, opposing an Axis force which had its supply lines funneled over 100 miles of the Mediterranean from Sicily to Tunis and Bizerte, then only 60 miles from the front. Nevertheless, it had been accomplished. But now, it faced not only well-supplied and experienced Axis troops, but also the cover of an estimated one-third of the entire Luftwaffe.

General Nathan F. Twining, future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Eisenhower, from 1957 through September, 1960, discusses the six days and five nights spent aboard two six-person rafts by himself and the thirteen others from the Flying Fortress which pitched down in bad weather over the Pacific in mid-January, the plane sinking so quickly that only a can of sardines, a chocolate bar, and a half canteen of water could be salvaged. The rafts hadn't even a smoke smudge to send up smoke signals or a Very gun to shoot off flares. General Twining reported of the crew having been passed over twice by search planes and once by a ship without the ability to signal them, before finally being spotted by two Catalina flying boats. Moreover they had no means by which to catch fish and had to resort to shooting two albatrosses. All in the rime, we suppose.

As pointed out, Mrs. Twining lived in Charlotte.

"The whole theory of the special and supernatural and all that was twined with it or educed out of it departs as a dream."

From beset Italy came the news that desperate Mussolini had fired from Dr. Caligari's cabinet his son-in-law, Count Ciano, originally the chief proponent in Italy of the Nazi brass-bound Lie theory, and consolidated his former position as Foreign Minister with his own power as Premier. Objective observers saw that move and the general shakeup otherwise of the cabinet, leaving only three of its members in place, as signs of weakening power by Mussolini in the face of repeated Allied bombings, growing discontent among the Italian people with desperate economic conditions afoot, Nazi occupation of the country, and the further erosion of Mussolini's already eroded prestige after the loss of Italian Libya to the British with the surrender and evacuation of Tripoli.

From Russia, it was reported that General Vatutin’s armies of the Ukraine had crossed the Donets River at four different bridgeheads, moving ever closer to Kursk while the Caucasus forces in the south continued their movement to encircle Rostov.

--To hell with the bloody Fuhrer. Get thee gone to Acheron; heading to the bloody Black Sea, man. Failing that, might defect. Had quite enough of this Caucasian stuff for one lifetime.

The right honorable gentleman Laborite's query from Commons as to what the devil was going on with three Nazi fliers downed over England being provided a full military burial, replete with RAF wreaths and swastika-bearing flags while planes flew overhead in salute, brings back to mind a similar episode in the United States from the previous April 15 when a U-boat crew of 29, sunk by the U.S.S. Roper on April 14, were buried with full military honors at Hampton, Virginia, as reported July 23.

Ourselves, we would have left the remains for the sharks off Norfolk, and tossed the Luftwaffe fliers likewise in the drink. They were already dead; to hell with the Nazis.

We might have gouged their eyes out, stuck the eyes on the end of some swizzle sticks, and sent the eyes on swizzle sticks, parcel post, to Der Fuehrer for an appetizer.

We would have enclosed a note of thanks: "Thank you, Mr. Hitler, for the handy submarine and airplane. We thought, in return, we might send you back the eyes of the crews, which eyes they somehow lost from their heads upon crashing, so that you might better see. Here, then, are the 63 eyes. One was missing already. We hope you enjoy your dinner."

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held this date that Max Stephan, the Detroit restaurateur, convicted of treason for providing aid and comfort to escaped Nazi pilot Peter Krug, as we indicated on August 7, was properly convicted on sufficient evidence to withstand a motion by the defense for a directed verdict. The death sentence, however, was eventually commuted to life imprisonment by President Roosevelt after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

And the jury in Los Angeles, after thirteen whole hours of studious deliberation on the three counts of statutory rape against Erroll Flynn for his alleged misbehavior with Miss Betty and Miss Peggy La Rue, young teenaged girls, by whom Mr. Flynn pled as defense he was circumstantially set up, and after a leaked initial ballot the previous day had been recorded as 10 to 2 for acquittal, the two holdout gentlemen having been convinced, obviously, by the ladies of the petit jury that Erroll was an innocent looking fellow who meant no harm and had such resistless charms that no girl of any age could resist his circumstances, agreed finally unanimously that he must be acquitted. (That is only our speculation, of course, as to what went on in the jury room, and on the Q.T., for all jury deliberations are hush-hush.) So, Mr. Erroll wouldn't have to spend either a year in lock-up in Los Angeles County Jail or one to fifty in the pen, even worse.

Robert Ford, who also shot Jesse James in the back while straightening a picture there, was said to be pleased as his lead defense counsel.

We think that the prosecution might have benefited from leaving off Miss Peggy La Rue's case entirely from the indictment and sticking with Miss Betty only. Any young woman with the middle name "La Rue" would be better to leave that off, too, whether in Los Angeles, New Orleans, or elsewhere.

On the editorial page, "Coming Peace?" again sees signs on the road of possible peace feelers coming from Germany amid suggestions that the war might be over within the ensuing year, while cautioning, as with Gettysburg ending Lee's military might but not the Civil War, that the defeats militarily of Hitler's armies in Russia and in North Africa would yet likely not translate to a surrender.

"A Warning" suggests that, based on prior experience, such as in the Battle of the Coral Sea the previous May, the ominous silence of the Navy Department as to claims floating about that the Japanese had sunk in the previous few days numerous American ships in the Solomons, could mean impending bad news. While astute in its forecast based on prior events, this time, the news would, by Tuesday, be heralded favorably and in the boldest headlines of late: the Japanese had been driven from Guadalcanal.

Samuel Grafton paints a picture of renewed effort by the former isolationists to resurrect themselves in the public perception, by the Dies Committee's announced intent to investigate journalistic "conspiracy" to humiliate and undermine the reputation of the Congress by adversely portraying the motives of former isolationists.

By way of suggesting that the Army and not Congress ought determine the need for manpower in its ranks in the coming year, that being estimated at placement of 7.5 million men into active service, plus the three million of the Navy, Raymond Clapper makes a curious pair of statements: "Baseball has not been classified. Many kinds of twilight-zone activities are faced with uncertainty." We shall have to consult with Gus as to what Mr. Clapper meant by those curious statements.

In any event, Mr. Clapper had used the nebulously sporting phrase at least once before, on June 18, 1941, in reference to the tension between the Supreme Court and congressional action. We then favored Mr. Clapper's stance, obtained by way of Chief Justice Harlan Stone, that in "twilight-zone cases", where individual liberties are not at stake, the Court ought defer to Congress as the representatives of the people and their popular will when deciding the appropriateness of legislation.

In light of the recent decision of the Supreme Court a couple of weeks ago in Citizens United v. FEC, the 5 to 4 majority opinion, cast along familiar lines--about which we reserve much comment for now, for fear at present that our emotions might get the better of our objectivity on this hallmark of jurisprudence, overturning the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, holding it to be violative of corporate free speech, to enable fascists once again, in the guise of corporate advertising and campaign funding, to seek control of our minds through the equation somehow reached in the majority opinion that corporations, with all their brutely moneyed power, fascist as it always is in practice when money and group anonymity combines to dilute any form of individual responsibility, enjoy the same form of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment and freedom of speech under the First Amendment as individuals--which freedom, incidentally, is these days enjoyed by individuals in the corporate state in which we live about as much--unless, that is, you wish to burn the flag--as it was at one time in Nazi Germany--we have not changed our opinion on Mr. Clapper's and Mr. Stone's correct assessment of the proper balance one whit.

Well, we had better relent for now, as you can see. We wouldn't wish a knock at our doors from some Storm Troopers again for being willing to exercise our right to free speech.

We do, however, recommend that, since diluted responsibility at the corporate level is proper, according to the five-member majority of the Court, it only stands to reason that it is also proper for large groups of individual citizens, just as the Tea Partiers did last summer, to form outside the Supreme Court Building and protest this five-person majority, pacifically and responsibly of course, which has taken upon itself, willy-nilly, presto-westo, to overturn established precedent on the convenient notion that the former decision was decided badly--in this case, a precedent merely twenty years old, the less of age the precedent be, the more likely ripe it is for being overturned, says the rule, adopted willy-nilly.

That silly notion suggests that nowadays stare decisis is about as fixed a rule as an ordinary shooting star, fixed only by composition of the Court. Never mind 200 predecessor years and several hundred more before it from English law. We don't need follow all that rubbish anymore when we have Mussolini's Precedent to set the way, do we?

As with any primo Italian wine, with a perfect fragrance, aroma, and color, a precedent, to be recognized now by this five-man majority, must be aged to perfection in oaken casques. So, the Iron Five's motto, no doubt, be: "Nessuno vino è invecchiato prima che il suo tempo o la faremo un'offerta lei non può rifiutare."

Oh yeah...

If you value your constitutional rights, you should pay attention to this marked increase in failure of this spare majority to recognize established precedent and to overturn Supreme Court cases virtually at their whimsy.

This decision makes twice in less than a decade that this spare majority, even if two of its members have been replaced with two others, have decided a political question against the will of the people of the United States, the first being Bush v. Gore, hearkening to similar rationale from the nineteenth century.

In this later one, the Court retreated to cases based on rationale regarding legislation passed prior to the post-Watergate era, before the country discovered the abuses to be wrought by criminal corruption between politicians and large over-weaned corporations, governed in the final analysis only by a few corporate heads. But the five-person majority obviously does not quite remember that far back in time.

Let's have our tea party this spring and summer. Call it the We Party. But, remember, don't be disruptive.

You would not wish the parade to wind up as "Street Scene" describes the activity of the over-zealous soldier, slightly out of his cups, down at Sam's place in Charlotte, where the wild, wild west obviously still at times prevailed in 1943.

Nor would you wish it said as your epitaph that which was inscribed on the stones of the country churchyard of New England over the bones of one John Auricular.

We would it be rather something on the lines: "Here lies the bones of Sir John Auricular, in bliss alas, we gather well, in particulars, not down but up, for in the Lord's manner he was cast, parallel he supped."

As to the word teaser, that's quite easy. The answer is French.

And, for those wedded to the intractable belief in the unexcepted accuracy of Nostradamus, we suppose that one might say, in a stretch, that he was right in that prediction referenced, in the sense that in October, 1962, Turkey did in fact decide the issue and, perhaps, in a stretch, thus ended, finally, World War II--or perhaps World War III, or prevented same. But why be technical? Nosty was always right.

Here's a little known quatrain, No. 313-74: The five which did overturn, wound the clock too tight which then did burn. Much to be, much that was, we are still here, just because.

We don't know what it means, but certainly we shall all find out in due course and with all deliberate speed.

By the way, all that stuff about Kentucky in August, 1967 reminded of this one from a decade and more later, another true story. We kid not. We have witnesses. Wethinks the spirit of Alfi probably doesn't like us much, as both vehicles mentioned were of German manufacture, albeit after the war, but nevertheless still at his direction originally. He must think that somehow we were in competition for his Geli. We didn't even know her.

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