Thursday, May 4, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, May 4, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, for the twentieth day in a row, substantial bombing raids hit German-occupied territory. The RAF the night before struck with about 750 bombers, dropping 1,750 tons of bombs on the large military base at Mailly, southeast of Reims, in France, while Fifteenth Air Force bombers struck from Italy on Bucharest in Rumania.

During the day, less than 250 American bombers hit targets in Holland while an early morning combined American and RAF raid struck targets in Northern France. The Holland raid lost three fighters and no bombers. No planes were lost over France. Virtually no German fighter opposition was encountered over the targets in Holland and none at all over France.

The total for the night and day raids included approximately 1,750 bombers dropping 6,000 tons of bombs.

The Allies had repelled two Japanese attacks on Kohima in India as well as two attacks in Northern Burma.

In Southern Burma, the Allies were reported now to be in possession of the heights overlooking the Maungdaw-Buthedaung Road, a prize sought by the enemy.

The Japanese were now said to have only about ten more days before the monsoon season, to determine whether to make a stand or withdraw from India.

The Soviet front remained largely at lull, save for some relatively small encounters southeast of Stanislawow and south of Tiraspol in Poland, and some additional fighting in an area 35 miles west of Iasi, in the vicinity of large Rumanian oil fields.

Marshal Tito's emissary in London indicated that there was no possibility that the Partisans would recognize King Peter in Yugoslavia until after the war. The fact that General Draja Mihailovic, War Minister in the King’s Cabinet, led the forces fighting with the Nazis against the Partisans, stood as roadblock to recognition.

The Netherlands Ambassador to the United States, Alexander Loudon, in a speech before the Institute of Women’s Professional Relations in Washington, stated that General Von Stuelpnagel of the German Army was busying himself preparing plans for World War III, accepting that World War II was now lost. The Ambassador quoted the Nazi general as stating that the Germans would be better situated in twenty-five years to win the next war by the fact of the ongoing systematic destruction and starvation of Germany's neighbors.

As of April 21, American casualties in the war stood at 197,841 for both the Army and Navy, an increase of 5,005 over the previous week, 4,877 of whom were from the Army. The Army's total casualties stood at 153,302.

John Moroso, III, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, tells of the exercises ongoing in England to prepare for evacuation of casualties from the beaches in the coming invasion of France. The seriously wounded were to be evacuated by LST's, with the slightly wounded to be patched up in the field and returned to their posts.

He also reported of the grumbling by the men regarding the guessing game ongoing back home as to when the end of the war might come. The soldiers knew that it would be yet a long and bitter fight on the Continent and were prepared to wage it to the end. Guessing was a fool's errand.

The North Carolina Democratic convention endorsed President Roosevelt wholeheartedly for a fourth term while also endorsing Governor Melville Broughton as the vice-presidential nominee. The latter nomination was seconded by none other than Raleigh attorney Willis Smith, who in 1950 would defeat Frank Porter Graham for the Senate by running a patently racist campaign, one managed by Jesse Helms. It seems that in 1944, Mr. Smith was quite liberal and progressive on race relations, as he obviously wholeheartedly supported the President for yet another term.

In a particularly absurd bit of abuse of Government authority, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago directed the arrest of the assistant operating manager of Montgomery Ward for stealing or injuring government property. The underlying facts, always the tale-teller, were that the manager had taken from a wall a poster put up by the Government, instructing workers that all firing orders by the company issued after April 26 were void. The manager contended that he had only taken down the poster temporarily from its thumb-tacked position to read it in his office and had intended to replace it and comply with its directives after studying it thoroughly at close range.

Whether his contentions as to intent were accurate or not, to brew such a tempest in a teapot, when the takeover itself of the plant was already controversial, under considerable scrutiny, and, probably at best, of tenuous legal justification, was just plain stupid. It underscores the arrogance of authority which sometimes gets the better of those cloaked with it, especially when in the public eye, thinking themselves a little bit royal.

The plant manager, once confronted with arrest, would have been well justified in simply tearing up the poster, throwing its pieces in the face of the assistant U.S. Attorney and sticking the thumbtacks he had on his desk into a place of tender resort. Dumb deserves dumber response.

We wager, without looking ahead, that the charge would be dismissed before ever coming to trial.

On the editorial page, "Foresight" remarks on the president of the North Carolina Medical Society being opposed to socialized medicine, attacking the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill to provide government health care. The doctor recognized, however, that while American medical care was the best in the world, it did not reach all people for the inability of some to afford it. Thus, the problem was to make it affordable.

Good for you, Doc. Any more riddles which have yet to be fully solved in 67 years?

In any event, the piece thought the recognition of the problem would bring about resolution to avoid Federal control of health care. It forgot, of course, about the middle man, the greedy insurance companies, who push the bill skyward.

"Inferiority" tells of a talk in Charlotte by a member of Brazil's foreign delegation in Washington, advocating increased trade with Brazil, which he said would in turn stimulate Brazil's economy and increase thereby its market for American goods.

Parenthetically, he had stated that Americans appeared to him to have an inferiority complex about their culture, that they had one of the greatest cultures in the world, had managed to translate knowledge into practical technique, and thus should be proud of it. Instead, they appeared ashamed.

The piece agrees with the assessment.

But how that supposed inferiority complex re culture related to trade with Brazil remains foggy.

Maybe you can figure it out.

"A Reform" supports the suggestion made by Governor Olin Johnston of South Carolina to abolish the electoral college, even if differing in rationale. The Governor had made his proposal on the basis that the abolition would end the possibility of the Northern bloc of black voters offsetting the solid white South in a national election, thus a proposition, he held, in support of States' Rights.

The piece finds that the change would better accommodate true democracy and end the outmoded fiction of the electoral college. It points to the anomaly of the election of 1876 when Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, but competing slates of electors from three Southern states and Oregon caused the electoral vote to be determined finally by a specially appointed commission comprised of seven Democrats and eight Republicans. The commission had decided along party lines to seat the electors committed to Rutherford B. Hayes, and, on a deal to end Reconstruction in the South made by Hayes to acquire the competing electors, the election was awarded to the popular vote loser.

Well, of course, that was 135 years ago and we thank our stars that, since that time, there has been no such problem at all. We all know that the electoral college protects the interests of African-Americans against the all-white South.

Somehow, though, we think that Governor Johnston, on the rationale of The News, made pretty good sense on this one, even if it would be a long shot, obviously, for any such thing to happen ever again after the nineteenth century, for the popular vote winner not to be accorded the White House. That's just silly. It could not ever happen in the modern era.

So why change something that is quaint and difficult for every person of the least common sense to understand in a time when election results are usually into the networks within a minute after the polls close?

For all the good sense of the South Carolina Governor and The News, we shall stick with our quaint little 18th century convention so as to give as much power as possible to the power brokers and take away as much from the people as we possibly might give away.

Don't worry. Be happy. We live in a democracy.

"Dixie Coup" finds the Democratic primary victories of Senators Lister Hill of Alabama and Claude Pepper of Florida, each running against anti-New Deal opposition, to be predictive of the President's continued strength in the South, a sine qua non for victory in November.

The only departure, it remarks, of either Senator from the New Deal standard during the election cycle was that each trumpeted support for white supremacy, to counter their opponents who openly brandished the sword of white supremacy against them.

We might wonder, however, whether in fact Senator Pepper was guilty of running on white supremacy in Florida. It is better understandable, not excusable, but understandable, on the part of Senator Hill who was running against an opponent, James Simpson, who sported billboards proclaiming white supremacy. The primary issue in Florida, however, according to Marquis Childs the previous week, had been New Deal social and economic rehabilitative legislation, such as TVA.

Drew Pearson comments on the consternation of Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones regarding the seizure of Montgomery Ward. He thought it ought be managed by Donald Nelson, head of the War Production Board, and former head of Sears, Roebuck. But, the Administration believed such a move would have made it appear that one catalogue sales competitor was seeking to take over another and so nixed the idea. Mr. Jones then favored Harold Ickes for the job as he was from Chicago, but the Secretary of Interior refused the assignment. Finally, he, himself, volunteered, but refused to go to Chicago, sending as his proxy Undersecretary Wayne Taylor, from Chicago, to do the job.

Next, Mr. Pearson tells of Secretary Ickes running afoul of the power of the House Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee, chaired by Representative Jed Johnson of Oklahoma. The subcommittee provided the budget for the Department of Interior. Mr. Johnson became upset with Mr. Ickes for the fact that Mr. Johnson's law partner had billed a Pawhuskea Indian woman $2,500 for settling a will. Interior had to approve the bill because of its having arisen with respect to an Indian living on a reservation, cut the bill down to $280, which irked Mr. Johnson.

He then slashed nine million dollars from Interior's budget, and also recommended better efficiency and economy to be practiced by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Mmmmm, get 'em up, Scout.

Samuel Grafton discusses the controversy stirred in the Tennessee Valley by Tennessee Senator Kenneth McKellar's bill to reel in TVA by placing it under the watchful eyes of the Senate, and particularly the Appropriations Committee of Senator McKellar. His bill, which had passed the Senate, would make all TVA employees earning more than $4,200 per annum subject to Senate confirmation and would require TVA to turn over its profits to the Congress for approval of distribution back to TVA, effectively eviscerating its independence as an agency, making it subject to political patronage.

In so doing, proclaiming a desire to diminish Federal control of utilities, Senator McKellar had angered most of the people in the Valley who found TVA working efficiently to their collective advantage. At a stroke, therefore, he had managed to make angry both the local interests and the Federal agency.

Mr. Grafton recognizes the historical tension between states’ rights and strong central government, and the fluctuating favor afforded each by the public, as central government became too bureaucratized to suit local interests until local interests became unable to cope with the problems besetting their constituents, prompting a swing back to the Federal Government for help and resolution, until the resolution again became overburdened with bureaucracy--all, more or less, in accord with the Peter Principle.

Senator McKellar had accomplished the rare feat of upsetting both sides of the equation simultaneously, all in an effort to grab political power for the Congress, a part of the Federal Government, all in the name of lessening Federal intervention into local affairs.

Marquis Childs eulogizes Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, finding him to have been optimistic of the indomitable might of the American Navy prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, even if underestimating the temerity of the Japanese, as he had explained his belief during the summer of 1941 from aboard the Sequoia on the Potomac, his office, that there would be no Pacific war.

But, when it came, his resilience in adapting the Navy to the war and building it into a supreme fighting force was admirable and promised him his place in history, even one beyond his dare-devil days as a Rough Rider under Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba.

There, he had the experience, he had related, of becoming caught on a barbed wire fence and, while trying to extricate the threads of his pants from the hold of the barbs, wound up with a bullet hole through his hat. Mr. Childs contrasts the rough and tumble episode with the "calculated risk" form of warfare characterizing subsequent wars.

Dorothy Thompson again plays movie critic, this time looking at the fare being shown in the theaters, finding it generally unfit for children and teenagers for the proliferation of topics concerning sex and violence. She excepts, as suitable for children and teenagers, most westerns, Disney films, "Captains Courageous", "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", "Mrs. Miniver", and "The Pied Piper". And, we are already asleep in the theater.

Ms. Thompson, normally astute on all topics of politics and foreign affairs, had, in our estimate, a long way to go on movies, as she proved with her thorough misunderstanding of Alfred Hitchcock's "Lifeboat", which she had reviewed January 29, and again on February 3.

For not having any frame of reference from her own youth, born in 1893, she failed to realize that the average seven-year old desires a different type of movie typically from that sought by a ten-year old, and the twelve-year old will seek a higher fare than that of the ten-year old, and so on up the age ladder, until everything is fair game, more or less, after about 16 to 18, depending on individual maturity.

We, ourselves, were quite content with "April Love" at the age of four, with "Bye, Bye, Birdie" (with our mom) at the age of 10, with "Goldfinger" and "Move Over, Darling" at age 11, with "The Graduate" and "In Cold Blood" (not on the same bill), "The Valley of the Dolls", and "Bonnie and Clyde" at age 15, with "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Odd Couple" (on the same bill), at age 16, with that quaint western, "Midnight Cowboy" (at the time, X-rated), "Catch-22", "Five Easy Pieces", and "If…", all four at age 17, barely.

But to name a few of the films attended in our relative youth, which, no doubt, Ms. Thompson and her compadres of 1944 would have found quite shocking for the youthful exposure to such adult fare, even if, by the sixties, many of the older generation had come better to understand the medium of film as capable of more than mere entertainment or socio-political statement or education, but, at times and in the right hands, quite becoming of true art.

Our generation, of course, had pre-exposure via television to virtually all the adult news fit to print, and some which wasn’t, from the "real world" anyway. So, what the hell was the difference? To be blunt, once you read in reality about the President's head being blown apart on a day when you were living and breathing and aware of the world about you, view pictures in Life ten days later showing the sequence through to the fatal moment, there is little left which will shock you.

Viewing a film does not make one necessarily want to do as the characters do, provided one has proper home training in understanding the difference between Shinola and reality. Ms. Thompson, as with many of her generation, the first introduced to film, had yet to come to grips as a generation with the extent of the true impact of film on the psyche--negligible, we think, in terms of motivating untoward behavior. Comic books and comic strips are far more dangerous than films, for their appeal to innocence, sometimes cloaking subjects far less than innocent.

For all the violence, for all the sex run to color, run to vivid images scarcely discernible from reality, the generations without tv or movies to amount to anything started the First World War, which, quite apart from movies, led to the Second, had already engaged in countless bloody wars before them, on virtually every shore, had murdered, robbed, and plundered quite their share, whereas the far more media-attuned generations since World War II have had relatively little war, openly for the most part despise the thought of it more than previous generations, have had scarcely greater violence, if any more per capita, given adjustment for increased crowding.

While many other variables must be calculated in the mix than just movies and tv, such as the atomic age, such as higher literacy and more universal education generally, nevertheless, all in all, one cannot say that we are worse off because of violence and sex in movies. Perhaps, we are better off, to afford vicarious release of instinctive drives repressed by society, which might otherwise seek release in warfare, as in past generations.

In any event, it is an untestable premise on either side, whether movies, excluding television, do or don't impact behavior, aside from probably changing opinions, a premise which is governed only by assumption, bias, and anecdotal "evidence", always suspect, as, most often, it tends toward self-fulfilling prophecy.

Whatever the case, we conclude with this piece, for your edification.

Sweet Loretta Fat, she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a glossy pan.

We also saw "Mary Poppins" in 1964. That was pretty risqué. Not to mention "Gone With the Wind".

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