Monday, March 22, 1943

The Charlotte News

Monday, March 22, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, as the weather cleared Saturday in Tunisia, Italians holding Sened fled so fast that they left behind plates of spaghetti and meatballs sitting on the table before the approach of Patton. Whether they took the parmesan was not reported.

Little resistance was encountered in the rail town on the road to Maknassy. Two separate flights of Messerschmitts flew over the American batteries placed to defend Sened without so much as sputtering forth a single round. Apparently ammunition was getting scarce within the Reich's stores.

Whether one of the Messerschmitts might simply have been reserving its last bullet to be fired in the war for sticking right between the eyes of General Patton, also was not indicated, as with whether General Patton went out into the road, pulled one of his pistols from its holster and therewith, subito, chased them away.

The U. S. Fifth Army pressed onward from El Guettar toward Maknassy, to within about 50 miles west of Mahares, capturing about a thousand Italian prisoners, incurring only about fifty American casualties while inflicting heavy Axis losses. These forces under General Patton moved from the west as General Montgomery's Eighth Army pressed from the south against Rommel's southern forces congregated along and north of the Mareth Line, pinching the Axis contingent into an area barely seventy miles long in separation between the two converging Allied forces. The Eighth Army attacked along a six-mile front encountering heavy enemy action.

In the north, the British First Army, under the command of General K.A.N. Alexander, gave a little ground to attacking forces of General von Arnim; but it was reported as only a sideshow to the main event encircling the Mareth Line, involving the two stars of the show, Patton and Montgomery.

Audio of the speech delivered by Prime Minister Churchill the day before, as referenced, is available online, incidentally--for a price. Some idiots seek to make a profit off a public domain speech with which they had absolutely nothing to do and pirated long ago onto phonograph records, and which ought now be available free online. But that's capitalism for you: someone trying to make profits in perpetuity off the blood, tears, toil and sweat of others. It is very difficult to justify trying to sell the words of a statesman, especially prophetic as these were, originally uttered free and freely, which ought be free to anyone willing to listen and learn of history. So we shall not bother to link you to these exploitative bums. Nor, unfortunately, have we so far found the text. It is, however, summarized in the editorial column.

In one of his shortest and most subdued speeches, Hitler spoke on radio to the German people, breaking his four and a half month silence amid rumors of his death or deposition from power, fueled by his failure to appear at either the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Nazi Party or the tenth anniversary of its coming to power. He claimed only 542,000 dead Nazis since the beginning of the Russian war, contrasted with the roughly accurate four million contended by Josef Stalin a few weeks earlier. Hitler also claimed that the Russian front had been stabilized and that a new offensive lay ahead with the coming of spring to regain territory lost, as he praised the surge in munitions production under the hands of recently drafted labor from old men and hundreds of thousands of women and girls.

--Danke, Mein Fuehrer. Mein kleines Mädchen ist stolz, für den deutschen Staat unter Ihrer Hoheit zu arbeiten. Ihre schönen Schwielen auf, das ihr sind Hände gut recompensed. Wir als Familie Blick vorwärts zu unserem neuen Volkswagen! Wir möchten ein Rotes.

He did not mention, however, or provide thanks to those forced into labor among the deported from occupied countries and those impressed within the concentration camps.

To confirm the Fuehrer's good health, a photograph, claimed to have been taken at the Russian front March 17, also appeared with the story.

The Russians had recaptured Durovo, 57 miles east of Smolensk while, southeast of Kharkov, along the Donets River, fighting continued with the successful repulse thus far of the Nazis seeking to cross it to the east. The Russians conceded the loss of Belgorod, north of Kharkov.

Following the explosion of a time bomb reported December 13 to have gone off in the Rex Theater in Paris, now dubbed "Kino Soldaten", killing a hundred Nazis, a news report contended that in January, during the showing of a German propaganda film in the same theater, commemorating the heroic fighting on the Russian front, a shouting match erupted between Nazi troops stationed in Paris and those home on leave from Russia, the latter exclaiming that the film depicted Lies. The exchange soon became fiercely obloquious in its implications, and gun play ensued. The final toll: 27 Nazis killed and 17 wounded.

Perhaps a slow method thus presented itself instanter for winning the war. Simply induce the Nazi High Command to show more propaganda films to Nazis returning from the Russian front in a mixed audience with those not yet favored by service in the East.

Who needed the sacrifice of Inglourious Basterds from the United States and Britain when the Nazis were thusly accommodating the matter on their own, in the theater of war?

Pope Pius XII, in Rome, was reported confined to bed with a bad cold and high fever. Whether he suffered from gently seeping catarrh, as had Prime Minister Churchill in mid-February, is not elucidated.

What does that weather report box mean, by the way? "Heavy to killing front"? Is that a cat or a sheep? Is it wearing sunglasses?

Maybe a goat?

On the editorial page, Dorothy Thompson applauds the bi-partisan effort in the Senate led by Republican Senators Joseph H. Ball of Minnesota and Harold Burton of Ohio, appointed subsequently in 1945 by President Truman to succeed Owen Roberts on the Supreme Court, and by Democratic Senators Carl Hatch of New Mexico and Lister Hill of Alabama, in their joint effort to pass a Senate resolution by a two-thirds supermajority, setting forth a post-war plan for United States membership in a United Nations organization which would have an international police force to insure against future world war. The plan also included the establishment of provisional governments for the duration of the war to govern countries re-occupied by the Allies.

Ms. Thompson warns that 33 senators could block passage, representative of fewer than thirteen million people, ten percent of the United States population.

Ms. Thompson urges the Administration and the Senate to join hands in formulating such a policy, to make clear to the other Allies and to countries to be freed from the Nazi-Fascist yoke in Europe and elsewhere just what the country's intentions were with respect to their futures--thus encouraging populations of occupied countries to undermine with sabotage the Nazi-Fascist regimes presently governing them.

Samuel Grafton once again inveighs against the prevailing tendency of America's leaders to seek coalition with Fascists in re-occupying countries, finding the resulting stew anything but satisfactory, counsels instead a haute cuisine instructive of democratic ends while embracing by name both Russia and China among the United Nations, rather than speaking in rehearsed hushed tones of an abstract concept devoid of named peoples populating it. He cites as good example for the change the adoption by Great Britain of the practice of expressly recognizing Russia as a co-equal partner in this alliance of nations, that which Anthony Eden had expressed and that which, on the eve of his present trip to the United States to meet with other foreign ministers and the Secretary of State, the ordinarily conservative London Times had advocated editorially.

Raymond Clapper, as he had the previous week, plumps for more of the 3,500 airplanes being manufactured now each month in the United States to be sent to the Pacific where, he believes, judging by the devastation by the American air force of the Japanese convoy of 22 ships during the recent Battle of the Bismarck Sea, such planes could obviously be put to strategic use with good results in further depleting Japanese naval capability. He finds, however, in his research on the premise, that of the 3,500 planes per month, not all were going to the various fronts. Many had to be held on reserve for training in the United States, all had to be first refitted with proper weather gear depending on the front to which they were shipped, a painstaking process not susceptible to being accomplished on the ordinary factory assembly line and therefore taking several weeks. Moreover, the final distribution had to be made across the diverse fronts, as Russia, China, and Great Britain, the latter engaged in its bombing assault on the Continent, each clamored for its proper and well justified share of the allotment.

A piece culled from The Frederick Post out of Maryland conveys the hard plight of the farmer, strapped for labor, forced therefore during the planting and harvest seasons to resort to cruelly arduous hours, often amounting to 80 to 100 or more per week on the average family farm to get the job done--when, that is, the farm itself could sustain economically under such harsh conditions. Their dividend, in the one case on which the piece focuses, was not cash payment for overtime but rather the knowledge that they were providing rations for the soldiers, among whom were their own sons.

No doubt, the piece was meant to shame the bituminous coal miners under John L. Lewis, as reported on the front page, presently threatening to shut down the mines by April 1 were their demands not met by the end of March.

"The Great Plan Is Hazy" recaps Prime Minister Churchill's speech of the day before in which he had stated, and quite unerringly prophetically so, seeing the future dimly but with accuracy, that the war against Hitler would likely drag on for another two years. He undershot the mark by a mere 40 days.

This news came, the editorial reports, at the cost of producing consternation in anxious minds of Americans who had hoped for the opening of a second front on the Continent in 1943, a hope born of rhetoric from the military leaders in recent months forecasting the possible end of the war by the end of the year or in early 1944, a front which was hoped therefore would quickly extinguish once and for all the Third Reich.

But in contrast to that bit of Cassandrian prophecy, the Prime Minister also had informed that the end was approaching in Tunisia with the beginning of the final offensive on the Mareth Line set to choke Rommel in between Patton and Montgomery. On that, as well, the Prime Minister proved prophet.

"Case of Mistaken Identity" eschews talk counseling a harder line by America's leaders, especially FDR, equivalent to the stout talk of Churchill and Stalin, finds it nonsense to so suggest that the President's idealism was to be equated with softness. It posits that, instead, America would perforce become a leader in the post-war era, not a follower. For America, it reminds, had no empire interests to protect as did Great Britain, or need for buffer states as did the Soviet Union, was seeking essentially one goal: to prevent future recurring wars among nations which impact ultimately the United States. On that, it predicts, America would be quite unremittingly strong and insistent. The editorial column on this point was both astute and prescient--even if in some part, perhaps, the accuracy of the prediction might be regretful when the strength of Walking Tall with the Stick carried the policy to the extreme of placing the country in the role of officious intermeddler.

"The Silly Season" marks the coming of spring with the traditional citations by The News from accounts abroad the world of the nonsense of life in general by exampling the unexceptional specifics. Among them were the disciplining of a British Army commander who had instructed his troops to reply "hi-de-ho" to his "hi-de-hi".

Whether, after the retort, the commander then confirmed by shouting, "Gonna get me a piece of the pie," was not indicated. But, we are sure that it was all in furtherance of blood, tears, toil, and sweat.

It also points out that a former trumpeter for swing band leader Tommy Tucker had effected a new jive rendition of reveille which proved so popular with the troops that he had been made an itinerant musician, sent to all the camps to jazz up the rise and shine music.

We have to thank the Congress, incidentally, for yesterday passing the new health care bill for which the country has awaited, lo, these last 75 years, since the New Deal. It was a collaborative effort instructed by the President's steady and determined leadership during the last year.

As we suggested last week, sail with the Pilot at the wheel. Worries are far behind you; there's really peace of mind, too, when you sail with the Pilot. (If you wonder about the referenced link, just remember last summer abroad the land of discontent, not to mention the springtime of our yout'. Well, we can't all go to small land-grant colleges such as Harvard, or even Princeton or Cornell...)

We do not wish to throw any salt water onto the parade, mind you. But we are still awaiting explanation as to how compulsory coverage, set to become effective in 2014, to be phased in, with penalties for failure to obtain coverage, albeit tempered by exemptions for those unable to pay and the affording of conscientious objection on religious grounds, is authorized by the Constitution. Normally, such requirements fall within the police powers of the Tenth Amendment, authorizing the Congress or the states to guard health, morals, safety and welfare of the people. But for penalties to ensue, there ordinarily must first be some licensing requirement, such as with motor vehicle licenses, granting a privilege pursuant to the issuance of the license. Just as there is no requirement that one drive a car or therefore obtain a license if one does not drive a car, we question how one can be forced to obtain insurance and then penalized for the failure. There is no licensing involved with health. One is free in this country to be unhealthy, obviously, if one so desires. One has the right also not to be insured on one's health. Moreover, both failings have their own inherent penalties. Monetary penalties thus appear as overkill, besides being ostensibly without constitutional authorization. Is the authority derived from penumbral powers?

If it is pursuant to the powers of Congress to levy taxes, then it should be so expressed as a tax, borne by all within the ordinary tax structure. Otherwise, imposed as a penalty for non-compliance with the mandate, does it not violate Equal Protection? For others obtaining insurance are not so "taxed" by the penalty. Regardless, clearly, it is not a tax, but a penalty without an underlying licensed privilege exercised on which to base the penalty. The penalty might conceivably be imposed when one needed access to the health care system, for seeking the privilege, if you will, without insurance, but not before it.

But, doesn't that, ipso facto, present an argument that there is, within the Constitution's penumbral unenumerated rights, pursuant to the Ninth Amendment, a right to health care, not just a privilege, one based historically on the Hippocratic Oath?

Whatever the answer, we are sure that the courts in their wisdom will be dealing with this issue in due course and so we shall await therefore further word from the higher authority.

We are not the first to raise this issue. You may read, for instance, a Wake Forest University law professor's take on the matter, remembering that the professor's paper is an argument, even if phrased in conclusory terms.

How, for instance, precisely, does the Commerce Clause, as he posits, enable an insurance mandate? It clearly enables the regulation of insurance. But how does that authority to regulate translate into forcing every citizen to partake of a contract? We posit that it does not. The Congress may not interfere with contracts, but there is no express authority to force one. It would be to say that Congress could enact a law requiring that one must travel interstate in order to feed the economy of the country, or that one must take a constitutional around the block every morning to insure better health. As to the latter, would that it were so, but Congress still may not mandate it. Can the Congress, for another instance, force everyone who might qualify for welfare and public assistance to seek it, even if their personal health might be otherwise compromised by not doing so? The answer again is self-evident.

Perhaps, we fell asleep that day during Constitutional Law under Mr. Murphy's tutelage. Nevertheless, while, for practicality of implementing the plan, we understand the notion of a mandate, we still have to question its constitutionality. Congress cannot do whatever it wants to do.

The overall program, however, certainly seems quite unobjectionable and well attended with logic and fairness to all.

And when we die, and are dead and gone, please don't remind us that we raised this point on the constitutionality of compulsory insurance, as we draw our last out on the tobacco road somewhere, skipped by the ECNALUBMA for want of a health insurance card.

We are not, however, afeared of any "death panels" constituted by Herr Doktors, even if some may be, indeed, pretty hairy.

We do, however, still fear the death panels which regularly take place within corporate America, especially anent home mortgages. And we do not jest on the topic.

But the health care plan is, by its design, promulgated to do away with that very steel-hearted corporate approach with respect to an individual's access to quality health care; not the reverse. We trust that its opponents will not persist, and attempt to sabotage it, once it is up and running. Blame them, not its enactors, should it turn out in some cases to be so. Just call them "Tables" and be done with it.

We might, in the meantime, counsel more incentive, as under the Kennedy Administration, with due Federal support to school systems who so participate, to provide a regular, vigorous regimen of daily physical fitness, obviously, by the looks of things, sorely lacking during the past three decades in our public schools across the land. The benefits of such a regimen during youth and adolescence tend to stick with students for the rest of their natural lives and act therefore as preventative medicine ball, rather than reliance on some magic pill which does not exist without untoward side effects, obvious also in the unfit mental condition and capacity demonstrated by too much of the lethargic country, including many of those in positions of responsibility. Get out and walk, and then run.

Whether, incidentally, the "Side Glances" refers to the doggie, Sarge, (even if, more accurately, "Sergeant"), out there somewhere fighting in Tunisia under Patton this evening, and also, by happenstance, to a future dog of fame, if not fortune, we do not know. But there it is.

Now, it is on to the great State of Alabama and the city of Birmingham. We continue to make no predictions.

But, no fighting, gentlemen.

Don't pick their daisies, either.

Incidentally, if you are looking to supply some dialogue for the silent film referenced above, it may have gone something like this:

"Hey, man."

"Yeah, that's my name, dirty-squirty. You gonna Hassle me? What're you gonna do 'bout it?"

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