Monday, May 15, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, May 15, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the French fighting with the Fifth Army, on the right flank of the lower Garigliano River front south of Cassino, had captured the important town of Ausonia, 6.5 miles north of Minturno, constituting a break in the Gustav Line, as well as reaching the hills dominating San Giorgio.

On the left side of the line, the Americans had taken the towns of Santa Maria Infante and San Pietro, cutting the Ausonia-Fromia Road, as well as capturing vital mountain positions on both sides of the Ausente River. The Americans were now attacking Spigno, four miles north of Minturno.

Further north, the British and Indian troops advanced to a depth of 2,000 yards beyond the Rapido River. Allied tanks followed them into the Liri Valley, providing a direct route to Rome.

At least 2,000 German prisoners had been captured and heavy casualties had been inflicted on the enemy along the front.

The Allies flew in excess of 2,500 sorties on Sunday in Northern Italy in support of these new drives, utilizing 1,000 planes in the effort. They encountered 30 Luftwaffe fighters, part of the Italian wing. Ten were shot down. Six Allied planes were missing.

Bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force made its third attack on the viaduct leading through the Brenner Pass, virtually sealing both sides, thus preventing the only rail link between Italy and Austria.

About 250 heavy American bombers struck the Northern coast of France from England, while Mosquitos of the RAF the night before struck Cologne as well as targets in France and the Low Countries.

The raids rounded out a month in which 90,000 sorties dropped 130,000 tons of bombs on Reich territory.

Perhaps as many as 300 Luftwaffe raiders struck in southern England in the Bristol area, inflicting some damage and casualties, but appearing to have been a mission primarily devoted to reconnaissance to gauge movement of men and materiel for the coming invasion. Fewer bombs were dropped than the number of planes ordinarily would have suggested.

Chinese forces began an offensive on the night of May 10-11 along a 130-mile front in Yunnan Province in China, crossing the Salween River in rafts, to attack Japanese mountain positions. The forces had been trained by the American Y-Force under the command of Brigadier General Frank Dorn, a force created in March, 1943 with the objective of increasing the offensive capability of the Chinese. The Y-Force had rehearsed the crossing with the Chinese on the Mekong River.

Fighting was taking place at several points within about 20 miles of the Burma Road with the objective of joining the Lido Road out of India with the northern section of the Burma Road, to re-establish the vital Allied land supply route into China.

General Omar Bradley is quoted as indicating his confidence in the American infantrymen while asserting that they were well-trained and equipped, ready for the challenge of the landing on the Continent.

A vote in the Senate to bring cloture after 72 hours of debate on the anti-poll tax bill failed to achieve two-thirds majority approval, albeit obtaining at least a simple majority, 44 to 36 in favor of cloture. The failure to limit debate indicated that the bill would die of filibuster without ever reaching a vote and thus discussion was taking place in conference as to whether the bill ought be withdrawn to avoid the unseemly prospect of having an ongoing filibuster while the D-Day invasion of Europe was taking place.

Many of the brave soldiers involved in that invasion would be blacks and poor whites, good enough to shed blood in defense of their country, but not good enough in eight Southern states to vote without having to pay a prohibitive poll tax, a tax which discriminated against the poor, regardless of racial background, indeed served typically to disfranchise as many whites as it did blacks.

The royalists of the South, of course, as always, knew best.

Father Stanislaus Orlemanski, upon his return from Moscow after having been given a special five-hour audience with Josef Stalin, as discussed Thursday by Dorothy Thompson, was placed on indefinite suspension from his pastoral duties by his diocese in Massachusetts for unauthorized absence during the trip. The priest had gone to Russia with the intent of negotiating with Stalin the postwar disposition of Polish border territory, that area ceded Russia in 1939.

William Worden, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, writes his impressions from aboard a U.S. carrier in the vicinity of Truk, as it launched bombing raids on April 29 against what little was now left of the once key supply depot and harbor of the Japanese. Amid the lights of the planes as they swirled off into the night to the targets, the moaning wind creaking against the ship's cables, and the thunderous roar of the planes' engines as they rose leaving trails of fire cascading behind them in the sky, there came from the ready room a monotonous phonograph record, playing incessantly, "Saturday night, oh, Saturday night."

We are not sufficiently knowledgeable of 1940's songs to recognize that from which this abstracted lyric derives, and so we shall have to let this one suffice in its stead, probably about the same tune. Let us know if you know what record it was and we shall kick its tires and give it a spin around the block, and maybe include it later.

On the editorial page, "Any Peace" again examines the disputatious goals of Peace Now, the organization promoting the idea that if only the President and Congress wanted to do so, they could end the war forthwith through the simple expedient of calling a peace conference in which the Allies and Axis would mutually participate with the goal of reaching terms of armistice.

The editorial once again finds the concept ludicrous and only inviting of future warfare.

"War Time" looks at the debate on whether to take the country off of the half-hour difference which had been instituted prior to Pearl Harbor, plus the additional hour for daylight savings begun in February, 1942, all with the idea of saving electricity and coal, the Federal Power Commission having determined that 750 million kilowatt hours of electricity could be saved of the 45 billion consumed annually by the uniform national change to daylight savings time.

Skepticism had arisen, however, as to the beneficial effects versus the detriments of having children walking to school in the dark and cows not ready to give milk or hens ready to lay eggs.

Alas, concludes the piece, they were imponderables on both sides of the issue.

"Big Issues" sets forth a colloquy from the floor of the Senate between Senator Kenneth McKellar, also the subject of Drew Pearsonís column delayed from Saturday, and Senator James Mead of New York. Senator McKellar charged the Nashville Tennessean, its publisher Silliman Evans and editor Jennings Perry, with being Communists, apparently because they opposed the poll tax.

Senator Mead had called the attention of Senator McKellar to a letter he had received from Mr. Perry in which he denied being a Communist and, instead, accused the Senator of being one. Senator Mead suggested that Senator McKellar therefore should sit down and talk to Mr. Perry.

Senator McKellar retorted that it was the first time he had ever been accused of being a Communist.

The editorial finds the whole matter silly, with the invasion of Europe set to occur any day.

Samuel Grafton again puts forth his salutary suggestion for disposition of the thousands of war refugees from Europe needing asylum, especially Jews, that being to establish free ports where immigrants could lay their heads for the duration of the war without meeting the requirements of immigration laws. The United States was housing, after all, 130,000 Nazi prisoners. It could certainly extend to its friends the same accommodation it was affording its enemies. Once the pattern was set by the U.S., it was likely that the other Allies would follow suit.

A news piece on the page indicates that an emergency council to save the remaining Jews of Europe had made an appeal to President Roosevelt to adopt the Grafton Plan. It sought but 25 square miles, spread out in the U.S., Palestine, and North Africa, in which to provide shelter for thousands of such refugees.

Marquis Childs addresses the initial efforts of the Democratic National Committee chair Robert Hannegan to promote the candidacy of FDR for a fourth term, albeit with the proviso that the President had not yet officially entered the race. Mr. Childs indicates that he had his suspicions as to whether the contentions that the President suffered from poor health during the first part of the year were true or whether they were simply put out to whet the appetites of his political enemies while enabling testing of political waters as to the continued popularity of the President.

Meanwhile, Governor Dewey appeared to be taking much the same tack in his campaign by thus far remaining aloof from it. The single Republican voter who might have the greatest consternation at providing his support for the Governor would be Wendell Willkie. He might likely withhold his support until the last minute.

Drew Pearson's column, delayed from Saturday by the mails, consists entirely of the transcript, and Mr. Pearson's incidental comments thereon, of a 45-minute diatribe delivered on the floor of the Senate by Tennessee's Senator McKellar, responding to Mr. Pearson's editorial taking to task the Senator for his ramming through the Senate legislation designed to eviscerate TVA by bringing it under the strict authority of Congress, making every employee earning more than $4,500 per year subject to Senate approval and requiring its budget be strictly overseen by the Senate Appropriations Committee which Senator McKellar chaired.

The speech by the Senator was, to say the least, excessive and dealt only with the peripheral matters raised by Mr. Pearson, whether the Senator had in fact pulled a knife on another Senator in 1928, requiring his restraint, whether he was known for his patronage, (The News having regularly in the past referred to him as "'Pat' (for Patronage)"), and taking considerable umbrage initially at being termed by Mr. Pearson a mountaineer.

The vitriol flew without restraint as the Senator was protected from suit for defamation by legislative privilege. It is best summed: Lie, lie, lie, lie, liar, dirty rotten liar, lie, lie, lie, lie, liar, revolving liar, lie, lie, lie, low-life skunk polecat liar, lie, lie, lie, liar, lie all the time, daytime, nighttime, liar, liar. Actually, we soft-peddle the matter. It is far worse than that. Examples:

"[Drew Pearson] is just an ignorant liar, a pusillanimous liar, a peewee liar. I understand that he and Lilienthal [the chair of TVA] are great friends. They are two of a kind. What is fitter than two liars standing for each other?"

The Senator went on several times to refer to David Lilienthal as a liar par excellence along with Mr. Pearson.

"When a man is a natural-born liar, a liar during his manhood and all the time, a congenital liar, a liar by profession, a liar for a living, a liar in the daytime, and a liar in the nighttime, it is remarkable how he can lie. (laughter) This [story of pulling the knife] is a very fine bit of evidence of it..."

"This man is just an egregious liar and this [claim that the TVA legislation was by design to pool patronage] is just an egregious lie, out of the whole cloth. There is nothing but lying from beginning to end. His lying friend Lilienthal has gotten him, no doubt, to publish this lie about me, and that is why it is here in this paper..."

"Mr. President, do Senators all know what a skunk is? He is sometimes known as a polecat. The animal called a skunk cannot change his smell. This human skunk cannot change his smell. He will always be just a low-life skunk..."

Well, we would have to reprint the whole transcript to do it full justice. You may read it for your edification and entertainment. Suffice to say that, while we will not take time to count the times he used "lie" or "liar", it was several dozen--or perhaps we lie.

What the Senator did not, however, seek to defend or explain was the legislation itself and why it was so necessary to have all employees subject to Senate approval who earned in excess of $4,500 per year or to have the profits of the agency turned over to Congress for redistribution back to it. That was the primary point of the editorial. The rest was Mr. Pearson's inferential opinions based on undisputed facts, and such cannot be rightly termed lies except by Neanderthals such as the lying Senator.

Nor did he take up the cudgels against Marquis Childs who had, on March 20, leveled the same basic charges at the Senator re his motives for trying to emasculate TVA, or against Samuel Grafton who, on March 29 and May 4, had reiterated the very same litany of basic facts and criticisms of the debilitating restraints placed by the bill on TVA. Mr. Pearson was really merely batting clean-up on this one.

Parenthetically, we note the following paragraph in Whackied-pedia's entry for Kenneth McKellar, (which we shall not attempt to change for the unpleasant experiences we have had in the past with the Nazi commandants who oversee that rag, virtually illiterate in our estimate):

"McKellar twice served as President pro tempore of the United States, commencing in 1945, being the first to hold the position under the system that has prevailed since of reserving it for the most senior member of the majority party. When FDR died, and Harry Truman became President of the U.S., Truman did not appoint a Vice President, and McKellar became a sort of post facto Vice President. As the Presidential line of sucsession [sic] had been to the Vice President and then the President pro tempore of the Senate in the past, Truman honored that tradition by seeing McKellar as the logical wartime replacement for himself, and asked McKellar to attend all Cabinet meetings. As there was no Vice President during the wartime (first) Truman Administration, Senator McKellar would likely have been found to be the rightful President of the United States had Truman died during the War."

That, among thousands of such entries we run across almost daily, attests to the utter stupidity of the editorial staff at Whackied-pedia, their failure properly to oversee what is placed there, and the failure of contributors to know when to shut up, when they have not bothered to research a topic and are merely speculating. First, any dolt, other than the high school dropout who likely wrote that entry, ought know that the reason Harry Truman did not appoint a vice-president was that there was no provision for it at the time in the Constitution, not simply because he chose not to do so. Any dolt ought be able to figure intuitively, with a moment's thought, that the President would desire a Vice-President if he could so appoint one, to provide among other things for orderly succession, not leaving the position exposed to political whimsy, as the paragrab above-quoted implies, in fact not the case.

The ability to nominate a new Vice-President, subject to Congressional confirmation, when a Vice-President succeeds to the presidency, did not become part of the Constitution until the Twenty-Fifth Amendment was passed and ratified in 1965, in the wake of President Kennedy's assassination. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, the original provision on vacancy in office, reads, in relevant part:

"In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected."

The first time the new Twenty-Fifth Amendment was exercised was in the case of the resignation of Vice-President Agnew in 1973, after which President Nixon was authorized to nominate to the vice-presidency Gerald Ford, who had then to be confirmed by a majority of the Congress. President Ford then nominated Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice-President in 1974 when Vice-President Ford acceded to the presidency by the resignation of President Nixon on August 9, 1974, the second and last time, fortunately, the provision has thus far had to be put into practice.

The Congress had provided in 1886, pursuant to Article II, Section 1, that the line of presidential succession would be through the Cabinet, beginning with the Secretary of State. The law was still in effect in 1945 when Vice-President Truman became President on the death of FDR, April 12. Thus, it would have been a bit unusual for President Truman to have included Senator McKellar in Cabinet meetings in the Executive Branch, at least for the reason suggested, when the Senator's position as President pro tempore of the Senate had not been in direct line of succession to the presidency since 1886. Moreover, in 1947, becoming effective in 1948, the Congress changed the line of succession, still in effect today, pursuant to 3 U.S.C. 19: in the case where there is no vice-president, the Speaker of the House, and then the President pro tempore of the Senate follow in the line of succession to the presidency upon the death, resignation, or removal from office of the President.

The war ended, of course, four months after President Truman assumed the position, and so the further notion that the President included Senator McKellar, 76 years old in 1945, in Cabinet meetings because he was the "logical wartime replacement for himself", becoming "a sort of post facto Vice President", (whatever that might mean, presumably intending "de facto", not "after the fact"), as if to say President Truman intended Senator McKellar as his successor in the event of his death, is not only wrong and absurd in the premises, but displays an appalling lack of understanding of basic U.S. history. While it is true that Senator McKellar was included in the Cabinet meetings of President Truman, it was only as a matter of courtesy to the Senate as a whole, not for any especially warm feeling between President Truman and Senator McKellar and certainly not because President Truman had any prerogative of presidential succession in mind, simply not even possible under the law until the change took place in 1948, and then only as second behind the Speaker. Indeed, Senator McKellar did not support Senator Truman for the vice-presidential nomination in the 1944 convention, instead supporting to the end the favorite son candidate from Tennessee, Governor Prentice Cooper.

In fact, President Truman was said by one of the visitors to the Oval Office in late 1945, Kislikovski Mostliovsky Arithmic Sisillipostitosti, an exchange student from newly liberated Berlin, to be overheard to say, "If I had a set of pliers and a pair of 30-weight ball-bearings from Bill Batt, I could probably fix that so-and-so McKellar and he'd be ready to fly. But, honestly, I'd be afraid he'd take the bearings and throw them at me and use the pliers for things I would not say in front of little children here on the White House tour."

We suggest, therefore, reading a little before contributing to the Whackied-pedia without foundational facts and thereby confusing the public at large about our system of government and our history as a republic any more than it already tends to be confused.

In any event, and this is no lie, pardner, the Preakness on Saturday had been won by Pensive. In second place came Platter, and third was Stir Up. You can take it to the bank.

Now, the question arises whether Pensive will join the elite group of Triple Crown winners. We predict that he won't and that, too, is no lie, nor is it guff, even if he does.

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