Tuesday, February 29, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 29, 1944


Site Ed. Note: For the next year, for the first time in three years, we shall of necessity now fall behind one day on the calendar because of leap year in 1944 not coinciding with 2011, where you are currently. We shall miss you as you manage to stay one day ahead of us; do not fear, however. We shall be there right behind you all the way, as you now lead. The days of the week, you will note, will, remarkably, however, remain identical to yours, there in the future, which, to us, has not yet occurred here in 1944. But, beware: should you make a mess of things during the next year, we shall be back in the driver’s seat once again a year from now, setting the pace for you.

The front page reports that the Soviet Army was now within sight of Pskov and that all remaining German forces in northwest Russia were in danger of being destroyed or pushed to evacuate. The vanguard of the Red Army was between six and twelve miles from the crucial doorway to the Baltic States. The Soviets were fast burning a hole into and through that doorway, Brotherly Love with the Nazis, being impossible of accomplishment, be damned.

Roads were so clogged with wrecked German tanks, transports, and guns that special Soviet clean-up crews had to be deployed to clear them away for the advancing Army.

The weather had turned colder from the previous advent of false spring a couple of weeks earlier and the Red Army was, in consequence, now engaged in night fighting.

Further south, General M. M. Popov's forces were within twelve miles of the Latvian border, having to penetrate heavy German defense fortifications and communications lines. The Russian forces thus were now flanking the Germans holding Pskov, foredooming its defenders.

Premier Josef Stalin, in response to a congratulatory telegram from President Roosevelt re the 26th anniversary of the founding of the Red Army, sent to the President a reply in which he stated that he was confident that the agreements reached at Tehran and Cairo would soon effect a comprehensive Allied victory over the common enemy's economy, Nazi Germany.

In Italy, on the Anzio beachhead, British troops continued to skirmish with the Germans in the area of Carocetto along the Moletta River, as they attempted to breach the Allied lines via gullies and trenches. The British had thus far successfully held them from advance.

To the northwest of Cassino, Germans seeking to penetrate Allied lines through the mountains were repulsed. Several sharp skirmishes occurred along the Allied lines on the lower Garigliano River.

American planes, despite bad weather which grounded all Luftwaffe flights over the Anzio sector, again struck airfields in the vicinity of Rome.

The nineteenth raid of the month on France and Germany, seven more than in January, struck aircraft manufacturing facilities at Brunswick.

Appears a delayed account by A.P. correspondent Leif Erickson anent the Marianas raid a week earlier, providing more detail of the operations which took out 135 Japanese planes, as carrier-borne American aircraft bombed Tinian and Saipan. He also gives divers accounts of the February 16-17 raids on Truk, which destroyed 201 Japanese planes and sank 21 ships.

In Tokyo, the Government ordered the citizens of the city not to burn open fires up to 4:00 p.m. two days per week, in apparent preparation of the populace for a time when bombing might become imminent.

We realize that makes no sense. But that is what it says they were doing. Perhaps, they were listening too much to Tokyo Rose and began to forget that her seductive temptations were intended to weaken the resolve of the enemy, such that they turned everything upside down and backwards, in an attempt to please her guiling wiles. Thus, the home fires were extinguished two days per week during daylight hours to avoid being spotted by home-grown American bombers, who counseled to the contrary to keep the home fires burning, presumed by the Japanese from other news reports to be bearing infrared equipment to sense the heat.

OPA announced that greater supplies on hand of beef and pork permitted them to be had now with fewer ration points, while veal, lamb, and mutton remained the same.

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, writing from Italy on February 24, tells of the mixed bag of faith in religion combined with liberal amounts of cussing prevalent among the soldiers on the front. He had seen only one soldier who did not engage in a fair amount of cursing. It was, he said, a by-product of conditions at the front, both in terms of the enemy’s actions as well the harsh physical environs.

A private from New York was so impressed with the lexicon of profanity being bantered about by the soldiers during the San Pietro and Mount Maggiore phases of the offensive that he sought to compile a list, but was "snowed…under" by the sheer volume of the opprobrium.

For Major-General Ernest Harmon in Tunisia the previous May, the term “bastard”, being applied to a Nazi general of whom General Harmon inquired of his chief of staff whether he was prepared to surrender, was only, he assured, the code-name for the Nazi general.

By equal turns, the men sought out the chaplains with frequency, the chaplains willing to put up with the soldier’s language without remonstrance, as they knew that the speaker might wind up dead the next day. Two chaplains themselves had been killed in action, as they sought to comfort the wounded in a fire-swept area along the Rapido River.

Just how General Patton was excluded from this discussion of spiritual dichotomy eludes us, except that he was still persona non grata within the active military command structure, and so, too, we assume, with the press.

On the editorial page, "The Witness" imagines some colloquy back and forth, should Pietro Badoglio be placed under oath at a trial of whether he was fit to lead Italy, given his prior cooperation with Mussolini’s Fascist regime.

"War Business" does not scoff at the finding by the Truman Committee that 100 large corporations had received 70% of the war contracts, despite only having performed 30% of the nation’s pre-war business. The editorial expresses like concern for the future of American small business.

But, it does question rhetorically whether it was not an unavoidable consequence of the size of these corporations, given the size of the job which had to be performed, that they were awarded the bulk of the war business.

"Boyd's Words" replicates from the Southern Pines Pilot the last words printed of James Boyd, the novelist who died the previous Friday in Southern Pines. The words were in Arabic, designed to explain democracy to Arab-speaking peoples, just as his message had been previously printed in other foreign languages to the same end. The brief piece is reprinted in English and explicates that the first precept of democracy is the sacrosanct nature of the individual, protected by certain inalienable rights.

Some, of course, are incapable of seeing beyond themselves, thus posit themselves as royalty and diminish the other as so much peonage. The sacrosanct nature of individuality is a complex concept, requiring enormous energies to realize and maintain daily. For it constantly must recognize parity of one's self with the other, neither inferior in right nor superior, even if the while understanding that everyone is fitted with special abilities and special weaknesses, which do not necessarily counter-balance such that we all enjoy equal aptitude and equally valued talents in the broad sense. Yet, everyone has inalienable rights to be heard and express themselves, to associate freely, to petition their government for redress of grievances, and all without being chilled or repressed in that effort. That is a difficult state to achieve, both for individual citizens and the government, as well the individuals who populate it.

"GOP Hope" reports of a friend's list of dream candidates for various posts in a prospective fusionist Republican administration, one comprised of all the President's worst critics. The new president would be John W. Bricker, Governor of Ohio, the veep, Col. Bertie McCormick, isolationist publisher of the Chicago Tribune, the Secretary of State, right-wing extremist Gerald L. K. Smith, Secretary of War, Robert Rice Reynolds, Secretary of Labor, conservative columnist Westbrook Pegler, (who, no doubt, would protest too much), Ambassador to Russia, isolationist, anti-Soviet Burton Wheeler, Office of War Information head, Father Charles Coughlin, and FEPC chair, the very regressive Cotton Ed Smith.

You understand. It was the recipe for what would come to be called the John Birch Society, sought to become the Government in fact in 1964, in some quarters, still today.

Some of these Limbecks cannot discern the difference between ironic jest and what is put forward as a serious proposition. That immediately above, of course, is serious. The rest of this stuff is just a joke. Indeed, the war never really happened. They just told you that to fool you. Listen to the Limbecks: they know all. They never had to do too much studying of things, for their innate genius enabled them to understand right just out of the womb. All they need know are the two simple rules which were taught them in preparation for their life's work: Righty-tighty and lefty-thefty.

Samuel Grafton warns that in the battle between the President and Congress, brought to a head in the wake of the veto by FDR of the tax bill and the override of it after Senator Barkley resigned as Majority Leader, then promptly was re-elected, he resulting acrimony could only prove disastrous for the country, that the only course of sense was the moderate way of striking a balance between the two sides, right and left. Neither, he assures, could prove victorious in this time.

Yet, is it not the case that an active and even strident debate, one not advocating death to all those who would whimper and cry, yet still beating on Gideon's trumpet, is necessary for a free and informed public? And not only within the halls of Congress and between the Executive branch and Congress, but also between the people of the country, individually and collectively, in homes, in clubs, in schools, with the courts acting as referee over disputes to this end gone awry, so that the truth might better be approximated at any given time, with the realization in hand that "truth", in the abstract sense, is always in the eye of the beholder and rarely can be achieved with more than approximate certainty, subject to being disproved by subsequently occurring or realized facts, yet still allowed to have its opinion voiced on the basis of facts in hand, and however strident or disjointed that evocation might be.

For sometimes, jointed truth is the least likely, in the clarity of day or night, to have any sense attached to it--as a great load of popular music, and other aspects of popular culture, for instance, will stand as far less than mute or moot testimony, however unintended for the purpose.

One hundred years ago, in 1911, no one but a cracker, uninformed of the likely consequences, would have dared say, with seriousness, that man should and could go to the moon. He would have been laughed out of the class, the school, and then made to stand in the corner at home wearing the dunce cap. Yet...

And, yet, we still question, had he been allowed, but for some roiling royalists who could not at the time see the trees for the forest, to live out his years in the normal course, whether President Kennedy would indeed have maintained his stated goal for the nation of reaching the moon or whether it was, in contest with the Soviet Union, meant merely to be a channeling of pent up hostilities in the people, to redirect their attention to peaceful ends attached to Nazi inventions intended for Eve's destruction, the need in a certain part of mankind to have an enemy, such that we would not wind up, eventually, whether in 1962 or whether in 2001, blowing each other to kingdom come.

Marquis Childs also examines this divide, finds the President having been for long without great regard to mending fences with Congress, even before the war.

He does not cite cases, but comes to mind immediately the 1937 Supreme Court packing plan, overwhelmingly rejected by an angry Congress, as well as the largely failed attempt by the President to purge Democrats unfriendly to the New Deal from re-election in the 1938 mid-terms.

Mr. Childs finds, however, equally to blame the entrenched attitudes of many in Congress, frustrated by what they perceived as an overbearing will on the proposal for the Federal ballot for soldiers, vented finally in the reaction to the veto and, moreover, its rationale, worded in such a way to have provoked the ire of House and Senate members alike, probably having something to do with the President’s cited examples of tax exemptions for the rich and powerful, the timber industry, the airlines, and the natural gas pipelines, even though Senator Barkley contended that these asserted tax breaks amounted to relatively little.

Mr. Childs numbers only 15 Senators usually loyal to the President out of the 58 of his party, with another 13 or 14 sporadically loyal, leaving the Democrats only nominally in the majority.

He concludes that, in the case of Senator Barkley, given the Republican rout in the Kentucky races during the off-year elections, it was a bit of political theater to distance himself from the President, in an attempt to assure re-election in a tenuous political environment for Democrats back home.

Likewise, Drew Pearson addresses the backstage theater preceding the denunciatory speech of Majority Leader Barkley. His brother-in-law had sought to talk him out of it. But Senator Barkley was not in the mood to be dissuaded or cajoled. He was not even sure that he wished to run again for the Senate in the fall.

When he met with the President ten days before the veto, the President explained that he intended to do it, because the tax bill provided for simply too little revenue to permit payment of the war debt as the money was being expended, running the tab for pick up by the returning soldiers after the war.

While Senator Barkley sought to talk the President out of the veto, he did not forecast his intention to denounce his old friend in a floor speech.

Colleagues were shocked at the move in that the Senator was old friends with Economic Stabilizer Fred Vinson, also from Kentucky, who had managed Senator Barkley's first run for the Senate, as well as with "assistant president" James Byrnes, both of whom had convinced the President to veto the tax bill.

In the House, Ways & Means Committee chairman Bob Doughton of North Carolina had led the anti-veto spirit and was joined by most of the committee's members when called into special caucus. Only Representative John Dingell of Michigan actively supported the President, not giving a continental, he said, what the others thought of him; for he was tired of seeing raids on the Social Security taxes. Congressman Jere Cooper of Tennessee also eventually lent his support to the President, but only in silence.

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