Friday, February 25, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, February 25, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, as expected, the President’s veto of the tax bill, which had led to Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley resigning only to be unanimously re-elected to the post by his colleagues, was overridden in the Senate by a vote of 72 to 14, 15 more votes than necessary to meet the two-thirds majority. The veto having been overridden in the House the previous day, the bill now became law, providing only 2.1 to 2.3 billion dollars in new tax revenue as against 10.5 billion requested by the Administration properly to pay for the war as the money was being expended.

Dramatically, Senator Claude Pepper of Florida stood with the President on the issue, saying that were it only the override of a tax bill at stake, he might feel otherwise, but was moved by the fact that he feared the defeat would permanently alter the character of the party.

Although delayed until after the President's death thirteen and a half months hence, it would indeed signal the beginning of a States' Rights era among recalcitrant Democrats, resisting a strong Federal Government, especially coalescing around the hotpoint issue of civil rights and integration, coming to a head at the 1948 Democratic convention when the first civil rights plank was introduced to the platform.

A massive American air attack this date hit aircraft manufacturing facilities at Regensberg and a ball-bearings factory at Stuttgart, as well as other targets in Germany.

Another 1,000-plane RAF raid on Schweinfurt, Germany and Steyr, Austria took place the previous night, following the combined RAF-American raid on the two cities Thursday. The previous day’s raid, originating from both England and Italy, had knocked out a total of 156 German planes.

Two German attacks southwest of Carroceto, amounting each in strength to about a company of men numbering 200, were repulsed by the Americans and British in the Anzio sector of Italy, inflicting on the Germans heavy casualties, and resulting in some new ground being gained by the Fifth Army, despite the Germans having brought in a new division to add to the nine already present in the beachhead area. The new division was the 362nd Infantry, thought to have come from Northern Italy.

Despite seven inches of snow, Allied troops on Monte Castellone, to the west of Cairo in the Cassino sector, improved their positions, as there continued little fighting generally in the area.

The lull in the fighting on both the Anzio beachhead and in Cassino had enabled the Allies steadily to reinforce their positions.

German raiders, for the fifth time in six nights, attacked London prior to midnight. A dance hall, a restaurant, and three hospitals were among the buildings hit, apparently causing several casualties. Prime Minister Churchill visited the wreckage and held up his traditional “V”, assuring that Londoners would endure and give back in return to the Nazi.

In the Pacific, destroyers under the command of Captain Arleigh Burke, operating in waters off Kavieng, New Ireland, had sunk two Japanese merchant vessels and an aging destroyer.

In Russia, it was announced that the Germans had evacuated Vitebsk in White Russia, under siege by the Red Army since November.

The same writer for Pravda, David Zaslavsky, who had in January attacked Wendell Willkie, in that case misunderstanding Mr. Willkie's urging of his own party not to stand aloof from the alliance forged with Russia, now attacked, with far more basis, William Randolph Hearst, for his continuing anti-Russian statements, even having suggested in recent weeks that the Western Allies ought be willing to go to war with Russia to save the Baltics and Eastern Poland; Comrade Zaslavsky denounced Mr. Hearst as a friend to the Nazis.

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, tells of a night fighter squadron in Italy which called itself "the old city of London squadron". It had been responsible for bagging 128 enemy planes, losing only two, during the previous spring's fighting over Bone in Tunisia. They had defended England, fought over North Africa, Sicily, and now Italy.

Just why it was deemed front page news is a mystery, but the city of Tucson, Arizona voted to acquire the local gas and electric company.

If it had been Tombstone and involved the water company, it would have been of some greater interest, especially if a contest of survival had been waged between the corrupt owners and a man wearing a black hat and carrying a card, riding a camel through the desert to determine the ownership rights.

On the editorial page, "Uplift" predicts, without blinking, that the defiance of the President's veto of the tax bill by Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky would provide him with indelible new respect and a perception of independence from the White House to replace the image which had dogged him for ten years as the President's lackey.

The editorial begs the reader to pay special attention to the reaction in the isolationist press, especially in the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Washington Times-Herald, as they would most assuredly and quickly jump on Senator Barkley's bandwagon.

It cites a prior precedent of Jim Farley in 1940, who had suffered from similar baggage, labeled an errand boy of the President, until he broke from him, henceforth becoming perceived instead as a defender of the people's rights.

By contrast, Elmer Davis at OWI had enjoyed a fine reputation as a broadcast journalist for CBS before taking the post, since regarded as a propagandist for the Administration and its war policy.

The piece concludes that it had become a way of life, to win friends and influence people by distancing one's self from the President.

We conclude from all of this carping that FDR was the most hated man in history ever to be elected four times to the office of President of the United States.

"The Hoax" eschews the proposition registered by new Democratic National Committee chair Robert Hannegan that, should FDR not be re-elected, the peace table would be manned by replacements unable to pick up the many strings of diplomacy laid carefully in place by the Administration.

The editorial reminds in response that part of the problem with the post-war peace agenda, in some confusion, was that there had been so many strings laid in place, and that about half of those had been put forward within the Administration by Republicans. So, to suggest that Republicans could not follow on these strings and competently add to them was so much hogwash.

"It's Cheaper" remarks on the report of the Department of Labor that the cost of living was down during the previous month by two-tenths of a percent, that food costs had decreased seventh-tenths of a percent. Clothing had also dropped in price a little. Only services had slightly increased in cost.

The piece, expressing caution to avoid undermining optimism with pessimism, goes further, however, to explain that most of the drop in food prices was the result of the normal annual reduction in egg prices during this part of the winter.

Overall, it points out, the inflation picture stood in dramatic contrast to that during World War I. Since 1939, prices had risen 25.9%, whereas during World War I, they rose fully 64.6%. The piece cautions, however, that the great number of price subsidies paid by the government were likely a substantial reason for much of the relative stabilization of prices during the war.

"A Herring?" smells a rat in the reports out of China that Japanese in Shanghai were actively protesting Tojo. The editorial believes it a ruse to diminish Allied resolve to complete the rout of Imperial Japan. Even if the report were true, it still insists, it should offer not so much as even cold comfort to the Allies, any slightly stirring Japanese underground being far too weak to be successful in overthrowing their too well entrenched totalitarian masters.

But, while it did not end the war and was only the Emperor's response to increasing ineffectiveness of the war effort, Tojo, in fact, would be removed from office as Premier and head of the Army in July.

Drew Pearson first discusses the President's attempt to win support for his proposal to draft labor, finding the going rough.

Philip Murray, head of CIO, had gone to the President armed with a letter from Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins that Labor had stopped the war production only .08% of the time. When informed that Labor had a record of 99.92% efficiency, FDR expressed surprise, but still insisted that a labor draft was necessary to neutralize the adverse impact on morale, which the news of strikes continually had on the troops abroad. The news, contended the President, was exaggerated to them by such newspapers as the isolationist Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Murray had responded that the job of properly informing the soldiers was that of the Army, not the Office of War Information via the newspapers supplied them.

The President remained adamant.

Samuel Grafton finds insistence on controversy being the prevailing mantra of the anti-Administration forces in Congress. When Bernard Baruch proposed that demobilization be administered by various committees in the House rather than through an elaborate new bureaucracy, Senator Walter George of Georgia, an anti-New Deal Democrat, and Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, a Republican, rose up immediately to demand that the Congress should be the body to administer demobilization.

Mr. Grafton concludes that contentious attitudes toward the Executive Branch had so engulfed the Congress that it now would manufacture conflict with the White House where in fact complete cooperation was being tendered.

In his debut on the page, replacing deceased Raymond Clapper, St. Louis Post-Dispatch war correspondent and syndicated columnist Marquis Childs eloquently defends the Federal ballot measure for the soldiers and finds it hard to understand how the party of Lincoln managed to join with the racist rhetoric employed by Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi, one of the House bill's sponsors, to oppose the ballot measure on the ground of States' Rights, with racial implications thrown in for the Congressman’s good measure of the cross registered under the Rooster each election day in Mississippi.

Mr. Childs reminds that voting democracies were scarce in the world in 1944, even Britain not having had an election since 1938, that the purpose of the war was to defeat dictatorship, that to instill that purpose was to insure a full and fair voting public, especially among soldiers. He finds the argument specious and insulting that the soldiers were too gullible to vote for anyone other than their Commander-in-Chief, the only President most had known since their boyhood--indeed, as the opponents trenchantly argued, the only President they had ever known.

And, if you should be reading these notes and pieces daily with us and wonder why it is that we skipped this day for a day and first placed tomorrow's print, the answer is complex: we inadvertently started in on Saturday's print and drafted the bulk of its accompanying note before realizing our error. But, as they say, to err is to be a Comm-mmm-mmunist. Try not to lynch us for it or infer that the temporary skip in the record carried with it some ominously dark portent or, worse, anti-social intent of a subliminally, subversively coded nature.

Speaking of skips in the record player, the copy to which we had access for years, until the advent of compact discs, was heard, "Yesterday, an old... Borden died..." We carried it with us, incidentally, along with several other Trio recordings made on cassette from the original copies of pressings of the records, upon our first visit to New England, accomplished in our little blue roadster, back in early September, 1975, including a visit to the house wherein the story on which the skipping song on the record was based emanated and the event on which the story was premised took place, and in which recently, as you of the attentive will note, was reprised, the song that is, by the group who sang it, in our estimate, with greatest aplomb, and whose recordings on our tape, along with those of the Trio, blessed and adorned with great spirit entirely our journey there. We had a Big Ball.

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