Monday, March 20, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, March 20, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Russians had taken Vinnitsa and Mogilev-Podolski, 50 miles southwest of Vinnitsa, and had crossed the Dniester River into old Rumania along a 31-mile front.

A report confirmed that the Nazis had occupied Hungary, as it was also reported that the Hungarians had refused to obey Hitler's order to resist the advancing Russians.

In Italy, the Germans continued to resist in the southwest corner of Cassino, as another contingent surrendered the Continental Hotel to the advancing Allies.

Mt. Vesuvius erupted in its most powerful blow in 34 years.

A medium-size American bomber raid struck targets in southwest Germany. American bombers out of Italy struck Klagenfurt and Graz in Austria and Knin and Metkovic in Yugoslavia. The RAF struck the shipyards at Montfalcone in Northern Italy.

In the Pacific, General MacArthur announced the conclusion of the campaign for the Admiralty Islands with the successful taking on Manus Island of Lorengau airfield.

The Japanese were mounting a fierce offensive in Burma, in retaliation for the Allied taking of the Hukawng Valley. Enemy forces were reported to be crossing the Chindwin River in force at several different locations, approaching the Chin Hills.

In Algiers, Pierre Pucheu, wealthy French industrialist and former Minister of the Interior to Vichy, was executed pursuant to a verdict of a military tribunal authorized under the aegis of the French Committee of National Liberation, finding him guilty of treason. M. Pucheu eschewed a blindfold and stared the firing squad in the eye as, pursuant to his last request, he gave the order to fire.

James King, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, writes from England of conditions observed in preparation for the great assault on the Continent. The English villages were still the same, but the ordinarily slow pace had considerably quickened. Mum was the word, as planes buzzed overhead and trucks trundled to and fro along the roads. No one asked questions or spoke of where they might be headed.

And, in Atlanta, a robin studied its own reflection in a Ford hubcap for three days, sometimes striking at it, other times remaining merely pensive.

We empathize, Mr. or Ms. Robin. We have studied our reflection a few times in a Ford hubcap. Take just last August when we were stranded, wheels dug into the sand for four full hours on a blazing hot morning, on a side path off the main highway along the Outer Banks. There was plenty of staring at the wheels and wondering why. Occasionally, we attacked our reflection, too.

On the editorial page, "Finland" examines the perilous situation in which that country had left itself by refusing the terms of peace offered by Russia and choosing instead to continue the fight on the side of the Nazis, even though it meant an unfavorable position at the post-war peace table. The piece wonders aloud whether the United States could do anything except warn Finland of these inexorable results of continued fighting in the war despite Finland's general amicability and solicitous behavior toward the U.S. It concludes that, given the need to placate Russia continually, the United States could do nothing else.

"Roosters" refuses to take sides in the rabid debate between news commentator Walter Winchell and Representative Martin Dies. Mr. Dies had accused Mr. Winchell of engaging in a smear campaign against Congress, the subject of Samuel Grafton’s column of the day. He had subpoenaed Mr. Winchell to testify before his committee, contending that 60% of that uttered in his radio broadcasts were lies. Mr. Winchell had responded by challenging Mr. Dies to a public debate.

The editorial finds the entire matter of dubious importance in time of war.

"Safeguards" agrees with Vice-President Henry Wallace in his counsel that government-owned war plants should, after the war, continue under government ownership while being run by private enterprise. It would thus provide a balance and hedge against runaway monopolies.

The piece agrees that private enterprise could only be allowed so much rein before it would inevitably overrun the country with greed. It found in the remarks of Eric Johnston, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, implicit assent to the same proposition when he criticized the monopolistic tendencies of big business during the unrestrained period prior to the New Deal.

"Who's Nuts?" finds paradoxical political preferences among Republicans of different regions, namely the South and New England. The South appeared to favor Thomas Dewey for the nomination. But Dewey was a conservative by comparison to Wendell Willkie, a liberal. And the South had, since 1933, been decidedly liberal in its political preferences. To the contrary, New England had been conservative, but now favored Wendell Willkie. The editorial suggests such reversed trends likely would characterize the general election.

Of course, nowadays, and for the last 50 years, one would find surprising indeed any tendency of the South to vote in a liberal political pattern en masse and, likewise, New England, conservative. Since 1960, for the most part, with certain pockets in each region excepted, especially urban areas of the South, the regions have behaved precisely the opposite.

"Tragedy" marks the delayed report, eight months after the fact, of the killing by friendly fire of 410 American parachutists at Gela in Sicily. While tragic, the piece reminds, in war, such events were inevitable and should not cause the public to lose heart or confidence in the American military.

Samuel Grafton discusses the anti-smear rhetoric being passed around the House by the likes of Martin Dies of Texas, Clare Hoffman of Michigan, and Jesse Sumner of Illinois, three of the worst smearers around. Ms. Sumner had introduced a pair of bills to terminate the invasion of the Continent unless the President could guarantee its success, and to shift the primary emphasis of the war to the Pacific, providing General MacArthur, about whom she was concerned as undue recipient of a smear campaign, absolute control of the war effort in that theater.

Again, Mr. Grafton finds these former isolationists, now dubbed "nationalists", merely to be reprising their favorite pastime, obscurantism.

Marquis Childs discusses the efficient productivity accomplished by the Tennessee Valley Authority since it began operating a decade earlier. But Tennessee Senator Kenneth McKellar, known as "Pat" for Patronage, wanted to alter its operating procedures with an amendment to the appropriations bill to make TVA directly accountable to the Congress and also to make all employees earning more than $4,500 per year subject to Senate confirmation. The clear intent was to enable political patronage from the project if he could not hound it out of existence entirely.

It appeared likely that the Senate would go along.

Drew Pearson looks at the circuitous road taken by the War Production Board in approving the use of wood and sawdust to produce alcohol, per a German method, to alleviate the critical shortage. For two years the alcohol producers had fought the effort, not wishing competition from the timber-producing states for their molasses-based method of production.

The WPB had finally approved the construction of a plant in Willamette, Oregon for the purpose, but the paperwork had been mysteriously lost and otherwise delayed.

Perhaps that is what is meant by "grain alcohol". But then the question arises whether WPB was filing with or against the grain with their bastardy methods.

Massachusetts Representative John McCormack, future Speaker of the House, had unsuccessfully prevailed on War Secretary Henry Stimson for authorization to have troops available for the St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston. Secretary Stimson refused on the ground that they could not be spared from the war effort.

Representative McCormack then sought authorization for the presence of the soldiers from the President, reminding him that March 17 was not only St. Patrick's Day but also the Roosevelts' wedding anniversary. He thus suggested the Bean Townsians' wishes to help celebrate that as well. The President, recognizing Mr. McCormack to be spreading plentiful blarney around, proceeded to authorize a regiment of soldiers together with a band.

Mr. Pearson then recounts the popularity of Undersecretary of State Ed Stettinius with the Congress.

A news item reports that "Big Bill" Thompson, former three-term mayor of Chicago between 1915 and 1923, and again between 1927 and 1931, during the heart of the Al Capone era, died of natural causes. His administrations, while colorful, had been plagued with charges of graft and corruption and association with underworld figures. He labeled the charges "lies", as he sought to rid the Chicago schoolbooks of supposed British propaganda, while appealing to the Germanic heritage of his constituents.

Well, everyone knows that Chicago politics has, for time immemorial, been as clean as a hound's tooth. What else is new?

Okay, so maybe it was a '41 Buick. It sounds better as a Ford.
At least, it wasn't an Oldsmobile or, even worse, a Dodge.
Sometimes, only the birds can tell that which is true.

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