Saturday, March 18, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, March 18, 1944

FOUR EDITORIALS

Site Ed. Note: The Red Army, reports the front page, had taken Yampol, site of the initiation of the Russian advance into Bessarabia in 1940, a part of Rumania from the end of World War I to 1940.

At the northern end of the Ukrainian front, Marshal Gregory Zhukov's First Ukrainian Army plunged west from captured Dubno in Poland, threatening a large area east of the Bug River, muddied with thaw and rain. The Army was less than 60 miles from the Curzon Line, the 1940 Polish border. Dubno afforded a highway center, with one hard-surfaced road leading northwest to Lutsk and another leading southwest to Lwow.

Zhemerinka, on the Odessa-Lwow rail line, below Vinnitsa, was also captured, along with Pomoshnaya, junction on the last east-west railway held by the Germans into Bessarabia. Thus, the Russians had gained control of both remaining previously German-held rail lines from the Ukraine into Bessarabia.

As Allied tanks moved into Cassino for the first time after paths for them had been cleared of rubble by the engineers, New Zealand and Indian troops were busy driving the remaining Germans from the southwest corner of Cassino, the only part of the town still held by the enemy. The Germans still, however, maintained positions on the high ground, on Monte Cassino and other hills, surrounding the town, thus were able to protect the corner for the nonce.

After American engineers put up a bridge across the Rapido River to speed access of infantry and tanks into the town, German air fighters attempted unsuccessfully to bomb it.

Allied air cover had resumed on the Anzio beachhead after German planes had bombarded the area for three successive nights.

Another large contingent of American bombers flew a raid over southern Germany this day, probably consisting of 750 to 1,000 bombers, though no number had yet been provided. The previous dayís American raid from Italy on Vienna had been numbered at 500 to 700 bombers by German radio.

In the Pacific, American troops captured Lorengau airdrome on Manus Island in the Admiralties. Rabaul on New Britain and Wewak on New Guinea again were bombed, along with Oroluk and Pingelap islands in the Eastern Carolines.

The American engineers and British troops, originating in India, who had landed more than a week earlier via gliders behind enemy lines in Northern Burma, as reported the previous day, had already, within 24 hours of landing in the position southeast of Myitkyina, smoothed out the floor of the valley and established an airstrip from which to conduct operations. The action was threatening to cut off the northern Japanese troops from their southern counterparts and interrupt their supply route in the bargain.

The mountainous and jungle terrain of Burma had otherwise presented a formidable obstacle to getting ground troops in place.

In preparation for the assault, Allied air cover had destroyed fully a fifth of the Japanese air strength in Burma.

Edward Kennedy, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, writes from Anzio re the attitude of the soldiers, among other things, toward post-war plans for Germany. One private from Florida had indicated his determination that the Germans should be disarmed and an occupying force, comprised of fresh troops, put in place for 20 to 50 years to insure that there would be no effort at rearmament. Otherwise, he thought that they should be left to go about their business and rebuild their country.

The private's thoughts proved quite prophetic of that which in fact occurred.

Appearing to suggest a private superfluity against the backdrop of a national chamber of horrors to replace the chamber of deputies, a report surfaced from Vichy that French police were searching for a latter-day Bluebeard, a doctor who had reportedly killed as many as 30 women in his private chamber of horrors, uncovered in his villa. He had drugged his victims, then bound them to a wall, after which he watched them at close range through a periscope projecting into the chamber, as they slowly writhed in pain and died. After the death of each victim, he proceeded to open a trap door in the floor and dropped each corpse into a pit of lime, in which nine complete skeletons had been found by the police.

The doctor seems to have been insane twice over, first for the act and second for not considering alternative vents available at the time for his urges: he only needed to join the Nazi Party, into which he would have been welcomed as a normal family man with a pleasantly eccentric hobby. Herr Himmler would have been quite receptive. He could have received appointmenet immediately as the house physician for Auschwitz.

On the editorial page, "A Debate" reports on the stirring tempest in a teapot brewing in Commons regarding whether Prime Minister Churchill had kept the British Government true to the lofty ideals set forth in the Atlantic Charter, which most pointedly included renunciation of all extraterritorial aggression post-war, implying thereby an end to all empire interests. Mr. Churchill, though having in November 1942, at the outset of the invasion of North Africa by the American forces, and in celebration of the British victory by the forces under the command of General Montgomery over the Germans in the Battle of Egypt, assured that he did not intend to become the first King's First Minister to preside over dissolution of the British Empire, nevertheless reassured Commons and the seventy of its members who had signed a petition questioning whether there was continued adherence to the Charter, that Britain still respected its terms.

The editorial finds this affirmation merely a bit of statesmanship on the Prime Ministerís part, that the lofty goals of the Charter had been criticized from its outset in August, 1941, that it had always been regarded as overly idealistic, that both the United States and Great Britain had effectively ignored it since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The people, it feels confident in asserting, wanted to win the war and could care less about the ideals embraced by the Charter. Thus, it predicts that the storm in Britain would amount to little as the people themselves had little interest at present in ideals, were exclusively concerned with practical results.

"The Battle" reports of a speech by Rear Admiral Carleton Wright, veteran commander of Pacific action, in which he had expressed the hope of a major confrontation between the United States Navy and that of Japan, that though there would be great American sacrifice in such a climactic battle, it would inevitably result in the destruction of the Japanese Fleet, that on which Japan placed ultimate reliance for both air and sea protection of the home islands.

The editorial finds the hope one which might come to fruition soon, but also cautions that the campaign of the United States during the previous four months since the taking of the Gilbert Islands, that of island-hopping, might induce the Japanese to preserve their fleet by keeping it safely hidden, just as it had since the last major naval engagement, the Battle of the Bismarck Sea a year earlier, miserably lost by the Japanese Navy.

"Questions" advocates thorough investigation of the purported problems with the three-release parachutes issued to the army, as revealed by Drew Pearson, claimed to have been the culprit causing the deaths of eight parachutists in training at Camp Mackall in North Carolina.

Some men in combat, says the piece, had written that they had used both the British single-release parachute and the American triple-release version and found the American parachute safer. But others had echoed the complaint revealed by Mr. Pearson.

The War Department was about investigating the matter and the piece predicts that the safer type of parachute would emerge, while also expressing the hope that any scandal, as suggested by Mr. Pearson, in the means of acquisition of this type of parachute by the Army, would be revealed.

"Platform" looks at the plea in Wilson by Frank Lonergan, Exalted Ruler of the Elks, (not to be confused with Wayne Lonergan, on trial in Manhattan for murder of his estranged wife in late October), for return to the American "Way of Life". He urged fervently all 600,000 Elks to find it again and fight against all isms save patriotism.

The piece, opting for journalism, suggests that America would do well to engage in great self-examination before determining that it should find in the extant pattern and precepts a paradigm for "Americanism". As well, it continues, a return to the past would be fraught with ample danger and numerous problems which would not bear repetition in the future.

It instead counsels looking to a freshly imbued future, neither regaling the past nor exalting the present as being emblematic of something in any time so vaguely ephemeral and elusively defined, that not transparent beneath the sublime, as "Americanism".

Well, we ourselves, Longerran, have examined this concept of which you speak many times since our youth and have consistently found your type typically to be full of holes and without much conceptualization of just what in the world you are trying to say and promote in any concrete and practical sense, simply providing sweet-sounding words for after-dinner cocktails, to appear as completely incomprehensibly vague as possible, yet damned well patriotic as you can, such that every one will say, "Damned well patriotic hell-of-a-fellow, that Loongergan, huh? Say, what business is he in?"

So, Loangerfan, get on your train and head back from wherever you came and leave us the hell alone. We'll decide what is patriotic for ourselves. And if it means criticizing "Americanism" and some hot air special coming down the line, we shall do that as we damned well please. That is the essence of Americanism.

Or, you may look to Cash for further elucidation.

The filler between the last two pieces, incidentally, begs the question whether on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's there is, hidden away, a photo of Thomas Dewey. Our original cover has one. Does yours?

Dorothy Thompson contrasts the position just adopted by Russia with respect to the Badoglio Government, granting it diplomatic recognition, and that of the Western Allies, refusing such recognition while providing support for the government at least for the duration of the war. She suggests that the Soviet position treated Italy as a fully committed ally while the Western position treated it as an enemy which had been occupied by a military force. The generals were the only parties from the West authorized to communicate officially with the Badoglio Government. While the Soviet position had been troubling therefore to the West, it also suggested a progressive stance by Russia with respect to enabling countries occupied to get back on their feet. It did not imply true friendship between Russia and the Badoglio Government but only a transitory recognition good for as long as the government held power in Italy.

Samuel Grafton finds the U.S. and Great Britain content to keep Badoglio, as well as General Charles De Gaulle and Finland, in a misty area of neither affirmation nor disaffirmation, conveniently able to call on them when needed to restore order, but also equally able to ignore them when suiting better Allied interests. Mr. Grafton remains eager for commitment to one position or the other and abandonment of the ad hoc policy of expediency.

Marquis Childs discusses a Founder's Day address delivered at Boston University by Eric Johnston, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in which he insisted there to be a pox on both houses, Labor and management--a topic recently discussed in the editorial column. Mr. Johnston had indicated that, whereas management during the hurly-burly twenties had gone about its monopolistic practices with impunity and disregard for the societal consequences in allowing itself to be led by the likes of Samuel Insull, Hopson, and Musica, Labor had in the thirties provided its answer in equally shabby displays of hubris with such characters as Willie Bioff, George Browne, and George Scalise--who, among other nefarious activities, had conspired to demand that New York theaters provide two projectionists for every film, whether needed or not. Maybe much more.

And now, Labor had painted itself into a corner with respect to the public by the insistence on strikes during the war, such that the public's exasperation with organized labor had reached its boiling point.

Yet, he did not gloat and instead gave recognition to the fact that strong organized labor was necessary for industrial production at an efficient pace, thus producing profit for business. He therefore counseled an end to the monopolistic practices on both sides and discontinuance of failure to consider the mutuality of interest between labor and management.

Drew Pearson writes an open letter to his nephew, the son of his youngest sister, on the occasion of his birth in Pennsylvania. On the way north to Washington from Miami, presumably aboard the Tamiami ACL, Mr. Pearson takes the time to muse on the future world, that being written from the links of a nearby golf course by Cordell Hull, taking some time at age 73 to provide himself with leisurely strokes, while to the north in Palm Beach, former Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, who the previous August had been fired or forced to resign after his differences with Mr. Hull emerged, both personally and regarding policy, especially as it related to the Soviets, was busy writing his memoir in which he would discuss that which led to World War II, the insouciance of Allied leaders after World War I, hesitant to impose the terms of the peace, allowing Germany to rearm itself with impunity.

Where was the world going? To what end? Mr. Pearson thinks it appropriate to write to his new nephew such challenging thoughts so that hopefully the future would not repeat the mistakes of the past in the seventy-odd years to come, that measure of Mr. Hull's lifetime thus far.

This was the second such letter Mr. Pearson had addressed to a new nephew. On the previous September 25, he had published a similar letter, looking forward twenty years down the road, that letter sent to a different sister. This time he looks down the road further, to that which has yet to occur even in 2011.

Well, for all of the manifold problems and the failure of some of the lessons of the past, those failures which produced the Cold War, Korea, and Vietnam, we as a world can still look with some pride on the accomplishment thus far in 66 years of preservation of relative peace, without world war, without further nuclear conflagration. That, in a stubborn world, full of tenuous urges toward authoritarian rule, both individually and collectively, replete along the way with plentiful abuses of power all round, is indeed an accomplishment, one to which we owe great credit to the United Nations, not the proper limited province of one or two countries to take the bows for which.

So, Mr. Pearson, should your two nephews still be around, we hope they might re-read your letters to them once upon a time upon their births. We make the same wish as well to all nephews and nieces born at that time and later, that we might consider that, for all those issues so many decades ago, we have managed thus far to resolve the worst of them, though continually an ongoing battle to maintain the balance of the world, sometimes tottering on the brink of self-destruction.

Yet, in the self-congratulatory process, we have to note also that we have thoroughly managed to continue to mess up the natural environment of the world, that which had begun apace in your time, Mr. Pearson, though it was not as aware collectively of the issues causing the changes or the changes themselves. Yet, and despite now having been aware of them for forty years and more, we have done too little to arrest our global problem which continues to threaten our existence on the planet. Instead, we insist on our petty terms of transport by gasoline engine from one place to the next, hurly-burly, without heed to that which we daily contribute in so doing. We fail to treat this issue as the threat it is, every bit as much a threat to democracy as was Nazism and Fascism of your time. We do not wage war against this threat; we blithely utter pious phrases, "ain't it awful, but what can I do?" and then hop in our internal-combustion powered vehicles, not caring a hoot for the future or anyone but ourselves, and motor on down the road to oblivion.

So, to those newborn this week, we have to address this note, in the hope that in twenty years, in seventy years, we shall have done remarkably better such that we can still look out our windows and see the steady lap-lap of the sea encroaching and receding daily on our coastal plains without enveloping all which lies within it in a drowning sea, remarkably increased in its lip at dock's edge by the ice floes daily melting into it as we now write.

And, while about it, and not disconnected from the theme, it would be nice to know what happened in Dealey Plaza over 47 years ago, whether it was the work of one lone nut or several nuts or even more nuts than that, comprising essentially a coup d'etat, or perhaps, more pointedly, a coup de main, one beyond which we have never truly advanced as a society for want of understanding fully and truly, in a manner fully endorsed by our government, what happened.

Even Russia has done better in the wake of the Cold War at acknowledging some of its secret and unsavory past.

The United States is intransigent sometimes beyond exasperation. But, as we have said before, democracy is not pretty. That's Americanism for you, Lohooligan.

In any event, in that regard, we ran across today for the first time an interesting story, relating highly credible evidence anent a canceled visit by President Kennedy to Chicago for his planned attendance at Soldier's Field of the Army versus Air Force football game on Saturday, November 2, 1963--the day following a military coup d'etat in South Vietnam, culminating in the assassinations of the President, Ngo Dinh Diem, and his brother, chief presidential advisor, Ngo Dinh Nhu, occurring on the morning of November 2, twelve hours ahead of Washington time. The trip was called off on the morning of November 2 at the recommendation of the Secret Service in Chicago after it was discovered that there was a plot afoot by a pair of anti-Castro Cuban exiles and at least one right-wing nut, the latter having been arrested with a small cache of weapons, including a rifle with a telescopic sight and ample rounds to go with it, to assassinate President Kennedy as he rode in a motorcade from O'Hare Airport to Soldier's Field in downtown Chicago. The two Cubans vanished without a trace.

The trip cancellation was well-publicized at the time in Chicago, albeit obviously not stirring a ripple in the rest of the country. The reason for the cancellation, however, was listed variously as either because of health or the crisis in Vietnam, the actual reason only being brought to light directly and with emphasis for the first time in 2007 by a former Secret Service agent, Abraham Bolden, the first African-American ever to serve on the president's detail.

Given the genuine crisis in Vietnam, would it not have appeared callous of the President to have attended a football game in the wake of the news of the assassinations? Such threats to his own safety caused heightened security concerns regarding a motorcade on November 18 through downtown Tampa, and yet the motorcade went ahead as scheduled, despite there being potential snipers' nests along the way. The same day, there was concern regarding the President's appearance in Miami, and, reportedly, a planned motorcade there was canceled, the President instead opting for helicopter transportation.

Were these repeated threats in this period not deliberate feints by conspirators, by design to relax security by the time the President reached Dallas? In reviewing the evidence presented, the central analytical mistake of the authors of the work referenced above regarding the Tampa plot, as with so many authors on the topic, is to focus too much on one aspect of the plot, either the Cubans or the Mafia or a confluence of the two, with some vague government interconnection. Instead, as with, by no coincidence, that conspiracy known as Watergate, one should follow the money, all the way back to the Sans Souci. Then, suddenly, voila! It all fits magically together. Wonder why that would be. Could it be that it is the truth?

Neither young hot-head Cubans, whether pro or anti-Castro, nor goombahs of organized crime could, excepting crimes against and among their own, tie their shoe laces with organization and such everlasting impunity. It takes more, much more, the true godfathers of the outfit to be the covert of the covey, that which was the "Bay of Pigs thing". That some such operatives might have been involved at low levels, or used as decoys to shield the operators, appears rather obvious. But that they were the orchestrators is preposterous. What was the break-in at the Watergate, occurring 46 days after J. Edgar Hoover's death, and the ensuing cover-up and scandal and resignation of the 37th President all about? A "third-rate burglary" in search of evidence of a call-girl ring as just another cute Dick Tuck-type dirty trick on the opposing political party? If you think so, then go back to grammar school and start over.

We find the Chicago cancellation even more interesting for the fact of the two teams the President was scheduled to see that day, that which we never realized until today. As we have related previously herein, we had plans to attend the Duke versus U.N.C. football game scheduled for November 23, 1963 in Durham, postponed in the aftermath to Thanksgiving Day, November 28. The eventual outcome, favorable to U.N.C. by a scant two points on a last minute 42-yard field goal of Max Chapman, determined the first bowl bid for U.N.C. since the 1949 season, when they earned a trip to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and lost to Rice University. Their opponent in the 1963 Gator Bowl was the Air Force. U.N.C. won 35-0. And the Roosevelt Hotel caught fire in Jacksonville in the early morning hours following the game, killing 22 people. The original alleged source was a cigarette in the lounge area, determined subsequently however to have been faulty wiring catching the false ceiling on fire, not unlike the source determined for the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub fire in Boston, November 28, 1942. Make of it what you will. We find it interesting.

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