Thursday, February 24, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 24, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Senator Alben Barkley, after having his resignation as Majority Leader unanimously accepted by the Democratic Caucus, was forthwith unanimously re-elected.

The President's veto of the inadequate tax measure which he had deemed for the greedy and not the needy, giving breaks to owners of tall timber and owners and operators of natural gas pipelines, as well as the airlines, for instance, was promptly overridden by the House, 299 to 95. Ninety-nine of the members voting to override were Democrats. Three Republicans supported the veto. Several Congressmen did not vote. The measure then passed to the Senate for its override, the vote on which had not yet occurred.

The President had sent a letter to Senator Barkley expressing continued confidence in his leadership in the Senate and his fervent hope that he would remain as Majority Leader.

As we indicated yesterday, the President's magnanimity, while becoming to him, was, in our estimate, unnecessary. He should have, instead, asked Senator Barkley either to duel on the White House lawn or simply submit to a public flogging in front of the Washington Monument, the Senator's choice of remedies being the operative rule.

Of course, we make some room for the notion that the whole thing was cooperatively cooked up in order to provide the simulation of a quarrel within the Democratic Party, that to provide appearances to a relatively gullible country of the time that a rift had occurred, the more by the time of the convention to establish the illusion of a healed rift, that a steady rudder therefore in the White House was still guiding the Ship of State, with an independent compass now poised in the Senate directing course.

But, it may also have been quite as it appeared on its surface, a genuine squabble in reaction to the President's citation of favoritism to the timber, natural gas, and aircraft industries, Senator Barkley understanding too well the drift of the President in his letter to the House explaining the reason for the veto.

Hundreds of American bombers on Tuesday had hit the Marianas Islands for the first time in the war, 700 miles northwest of Truk, hit the previous week, and 1,300 miles from Tokyo. Rear Admiral Marc Mitscher commanded the carrier-based operation. He had also captained the Hornet which had delivered the Doolittle B-25's for the Tokyo raid of April 18, 1942. The bombers struck Saipan, which would be invaded June 15. Saipan was the origin of the Japanese task force which had unsuccessfully attacked Midway in June, 1942. Secrecy yet prevented revelation of the precise damage inflicted.

General MacArthur announced that the western part of New Britain was now in Allied hands as the American Marines on Cape Gloucester had joined the Sixth Army troops from the south on Arawe Peninsula.

Reports from Shanghai indicated that Japanese were demonstrating and shouting "Down with Tojo". His downfall was, indeed, only five months away.

On the Anzio beachhead, Nazi attacks were repulsed west of Cisterna and southwest of Carroceto. There continued limited activity on the Cassino front.

The Eighth Air Force attacked Gotha and Schweinfurt in Germany, the raid on Schweinfurt hitting the same ball-bearings facility bombed October 14, a raid which cost a record 69 American bombers, albeit reported at the time as having resulted in 60 lost bombers, the equivalent loss to that of one of a Janaury 11 raid on Brunswick. The losses for this raid were not yet reported, but the raids of the previous four days were the largest American raids yet.

In Russia, the Red Army captured Dno, center of German defenses in the sector below Leningrad, 64 miles east of Pskov. German sources indicated that Rogachev, above Gomel in White Russia, had been evacuated as well, indicative of crumbling German defenses in the southern portion of the White Russian front.

On the editorial page, "The Showdown" discusses at some length the rift apparent in the Democratic Party, coming to a head the previous day with Senator Barkley's resignation as Majority Leader. The piece quotes the rationale of the President for higher taxes, that being to pay off the war debt while war profits were high, not delaying until after the war.

Had the country and Congress shouldered its proper responsibility at the time and not folded underneath expediency and election year politics, cheaply and disgracefully, the Cold War might not have been.

Such fellows as this freak, a bitter alcoholic, blinded by political ambition, might not have been.

For such fellows would have received no attention, have gotten no traction, because there would have been no great need for a continuance after the war of a huge defense industry to pay for the debt of World War II, engaged to fight a revivified bogey, the ally without whom World War II would have been lost to the Nazis and likely the Japanese, Com-mmm-munism, establishing in its wake the military-industrial complex against which President Eisenhower wisely warned in his last days in office. If anyone should have known whereof he spoke on that issue, President Eisenhower certainly should have.

Instead, a recalcitrant bunch of racists and states' rightists combined with some isolationist, anti-New Deal Republicans to play strictly election year politics in 1944 and stick a subsequent generation with the necessity to pay off the war debt in their own youthful blood, in their blood spilled in Korea and in their blood spilled in Vietnam.

With Comm-mmm-mmunists astride the world threatening our daily existence, ready to break into our very bathrooms, why who could resist the need to pay in blood the fight against these invasive Reds? Certainly not us, at least not until 1968 showed its ugly hand.

"We Don't Get It" searches in ship to shore light for meaning to be derived from conflicting attitudes evinced by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, as given voice in his most recent press conference in which he first expressed hope that the Japanese Navy would come out from its nest for an open showdown, which he harbored no doubt the United States Navy would win, then immediately expressed the need to curb over-optimism in the country, followed by an announcement that 92 enemy ships had been sunk or damaged during February.

The piece concludes that the only way to glean consistency from the Secretary was to wait until he was finished talking and then try to discern what common thread might tie together the individual strands of incongruity.

"Marquis Childs" introduces the new columnist to appear on the page the following day to replace the deceased Raymond Clapper. Mr. Childs, a native of Iowa, was a long-time Washington correspondent for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. We shall get to know him well.

Dorothy Thompson suggests that the traitors to the country who might have been exposed by the trial testimony of Charles Bedaux were no doubt pleased by his suicide earlier in the week.

She then argues the case that the Allies were effectively blocking similar trials of traitors in North Africa by the French Liberation Committee against M. Peyrouton, M. Boisson, and Pierre Flandin. Flandin and Peyrouton had gone to North Africa with the assistance of French Fascists and their testimony would uncover the structure of that organization. But because the Allies did not want to have such politically charged trials until the liberation of France and a representative government set up, these men were not yet at the bar of justice.

Ms. Thompson fears that, as with Germany after World War I, the tendency would be after the war to allow such traitors lenience should they be tried at all. That mistake would only repeat the probability that other Hitlers would come to power in Europe, germinating from the seeds of the Fascists not properly put to death as traitors, just as Hitler himself had come to power after seeking in 1923 unsuccessfully to lead a revolt against the German democratic state, an offense for which he was imprisoned for only five months rather than being put to death as a traitor.

Samuel Grafton finds the Germans to be fighting much more tenaciously than a year earlier when the remnants of eight divisions surrendered in Tunisia on the Cap Bon Peninsula and twenty at Stalingrad. Now, nine divisions were facing the Anzio beachhead while ten divisions had fought to the death west of Cherkasy in the area around Khorson in the Ukraine, resulting in 52,000 dead Germans and 21,000 more taken prisoner. He cites reports that some of the German officers were committing suicide in front of their troops rather than surrender.

Of course, some reports from German prisoners indicated that officers had provided them with orders to continue the fight, that help would soon come, as they, themselves, boarded transport planes and skedaddled back to Germany.

In any event, the sacrifice of ten precious divisions by Hitler in a hopeless fight, combined with renewed Luftwaffe attacks in recent days on London, the largest since early 1941, and the commitment on the Anzio beachhead, strongly suggested, says Mr. Grafton, that Hitler was seeking to buy time in the hope that a stalemate might be effected with Britain and America and that division would eventually supersede and devour a tenuous union between the West and Russia.

Drew Pearson reports on the leakage in South America of quinine, malaria preventative necessary for the Allied troops fighting in the Pacific. The quinine was being sold in bootleg operations for a substantially higher price than paid by the U.S. It was feared that the recipient was Japan. Both Ecuador and Peru were guilty of these bootlegging operations despite a contract with the U.S. affording exclusive trade in quinine.

He next turns to the feud brewing among Republicans in Kentucky state politics. One part of it was based on a return to isolationism as stirred in Paducah by an appearance by Robert McCormick, isolationist publisher of The Chicago Tribune. The other part was regarding which candidate would sport the party banner against Senator Alben Barkley in November. Republican Governor Simeon Willis favored a candidate who was chairman of the Lexington contingent of the party over the chairman of the Louisville faithful, despite the latter having helped elect Governor Willis, causing considerable consternation in the ranks. Meanwhile, the supporters of Senator Barkley licked their chops at the apparent disintegration of the Republicans.

This column obviously was written prior to the eruption of the volcano the previous day in which Senator Barkley resigned his post as Majority Leader. Perhaps, by this juncture, Republicans were equally licking their chops.

Mr. Pearson remarks, among his political Merry-Go-Round snippets, that New Mexico might prove a hard-sell for the President come November because of the fact that the entire New Mexico National Guard, possessing the ability to speak Spanish, had been shipped to the Philippines and were taken prisoner at the time of the fall, thus were among the prisoners tortured brutally during the Bataan Death March, as revealed by the recently released joint Army-Navy report.

It was not to be so. New Mexico voted for the President 53.5% to 46.5%, wisely not blaming the President for the actions of the Japanese. It would have been more sensible to blame General MacArthur, a Republican, even though it would have been insensible as well to blame him for enemy mistreatment of prisoners. The country was already at war with them. There was nothing more to be done. The delay in releasing the report was for the reason that it was believed by the military that the Japanese, as long as they were winning the war and thus filled with the belief that they acted with impunity, might retaliate by torturing or killing the remaining prisoners. The failure of provision of adequate air support for the Philippines, the prime factor in its fall to the Japanese in the first four months of 1942, was neither the fault of the President nor of General MacArthur, but rather properly laid to the isolationist trends in the country and in the Congress which had failed to provide funding for building sufficient air forces to defend possessions west of Hawaii, despite ten years of Japanese aggression in China, four months advance warning from the time of the move into French Indochina at the end of July, 1941, all forecasting what would happen December 7-8, 1941.

The Reverend Herbert Spaugh recommends The Road to Salem, a book by Adelaide L. Fries anent the founding of Salem village in North Carolina.

Whether the book tells of R. J. Reynolds riding into town on a horse, headed out to the country club and the golf course to shoot a few holes and blow their minds, we tend to doubt. They should have shot him and saved many, smokers and non-smokers alike, from the death which he purveyed from his pale horse with raised shining sickle in hand.

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